Keep Plugging Away


David is in the bottom row on the left.

David Gorman likes to think he knows a thing or two about community. He has five roommates, with whom he shares a modest food budget. They have a weekly chore chart and take turns leading evening prayer. They discuss balancing house relationships with outside ones, and how best to interact with neighbors. All this is outlined in their Rule of Life, a covenant they created which acts as a guidepost for their time together.

Community is a central pillar of Grace-on-the-Hill, an Episcopal Service Corps site in Richmond, Virginia. Grace-on-the-Hill invites young adults in their twenties to engage their Christian faith through a 10-month period of service, vocational discernment, and leadership formation. These young adults also work at a local ministry or non-profit.

David’s worksite is Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School. AJCES is an independent middle school which provides full scholarships to students of limited economic resources. He serves as an administrative assistant and teacher aide. You might also see him driving a mini-bus.

Below is David’s reflection on his work at AJCES.


Keep Plugging Away

Note: This reflection was inspired by a novel in the AJCES library entitled What Momma Left Me, in which each chapter title is a section of the Lord’s Prayer. At the beginning of each day at AJCES, students and staff recite these words Jesus taught us.

Our Father, who art in heaven…

In the parent column of the student roster, I see many mothers and grandmothers, but hardly any fathers. I know not to assume students live with their father or have regular contact with him.

Hallowed be thy name…

I remember the daunting challenge of learning 90 student names, most of which I was not familiar with. It was a glorious day indeed when I could browse the faces in the cafeteria and recite everyone’s name!

Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…

I read in T’s essay about AJC, “I like chapel because we talk about God,” and, “We are all a family because God made us,” and I’m reminded of the important work we are doing.

Give us this day our daily bread…

Lord, give us our breakfast bars, our Lucky Charms, our Cheetz-Its, our meatloaf patties, our apple juice. We need all the energy we can get. We work hard at AJC!

And forgive us our trespasses…

Upset at A’s refusal to redo the practice test, I flung the packet in his face. Walking away, I realized, I’m going to need to apologize for that, and later I did. I remember hearing a teacher say that apologies can strengthen relationships because they show you care enough to make amends.

As we forgive those who trespass against us…

When students are especially rude or disrespectful to me, I always make sure to say hi to them the next day, to fist-bump them like all the other students. It’s a way of silently saying, Today is a new day. Let’s start again.

And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil…

I’m tempted to be impatient, or to be too busy. I’m tempted to wallow in what seems impossible, or to see a student as their behavior. There is much to be delivered from in these neighborhoods.

For thine is the Kingdom, the power, and the glory…

After all is said and done—pep talks given, ice packs doled out, refocusing measures taken, math problems explained—things are out of our hands, a truth both liberating and terrifying. At the end of the day, we lament the bad stuff, celebrate the good stuff, and keep plugging away.

For ever and ever. Amen.

David Gorman, whose home parish is St. Stephen’s in Fairview, will be attending Virginia Commonwealth University this fall to earn a Masters of Education in School Counseling.

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