Monthly Archives: January 2013

on community: take two.

 

I have talked a lot about the blessings of JVC, but I mean it when I say that this was the highlight; this is the best gift I received:

Community:
the love and support of these four wonderful women,
who became my Boston family, some of my best friends, and my support system. 

If I can say nothing else about last year, I can say that I walked away with four beautiful, life-giving friendships that will continue long after the official end of JVC.

What these women know, what they saw, and what they experienced with me is something that no one else will ever quite be able to understand. While others were incredibly instrumental in my year, no one was there in the same way, day in and day out.

Community is it’s own kind of love. It’s different than friendship or family or a business relationship–probably because it’s a strange mixture of all of the above. I’m still floored by the love that these women showed me. They laughed with me on my best days and took care of me on my worst. They challenged me, and as cheesy as this sounds, they also inspired me. They held me accountable, called me out on the things I didn’t want to admit, were always concerned for my well-being, and asked the hard questions.

It meant everything to know that on my worst days, when I felt like my personal life was a mess and my performance at work was terrible, I knew I would come home to my community and a meal on the table that night. Somehow that always made things better.

Another of my “defining moments” of JVC was at Orientation while we were discussing our needs for the year, and Abby said very simply that we needed each other. And we did. I couldn’t have made it through last year without community; I know that without a doubt. And I guess that’s when I realize that we still need each other, even now that we are far apart. Perhaps we need each other more than we did before–just in very different ways–because they understand the beautiful chaos of last year more than anyone else. When I get caught up in the business of my daily life, I need someone to remind me of the lessons, the challenges, and the beauty of JVC.

We had to learn to live with each other, and now I am slowly learning how to live without them. They were my hardest goodbyes, and I am counting down the days until we are reunited.

So, ladies, thank you, thank you, thank you, for the most beautiful year and experience of community that I ever could have asked for. Abby, Cristina, Kateleigh, and Maggie, I’m better off from knowing you.

 

P.S. This post is very delayed. I started writing it before I even left Boston, and somehow it took me almost six months to get around to finishing/posting it. But somehow that makes it more meaningful because I think I mean it all more now than I did even then.

and i will walk with you.

I still work at a non-profit, but I no longer work in direct service. While in many ways, I feel that this is a much better use of my gifts, I can’t deny that I miss daily being with people.

JVC is still an exercise in reminding myself that I am not in control. Because now I have to trust that the people I left behind will be alright without me. That they will be taken care of and cared about by others. That they have taught them enough to take care of themselves.

On my final day at Casserly House, one of the adult ESOL students gave me hug and told me this simple phrase that has stuck with me ever since; “We will be together in the prayer.”

And we still are together, even as I live over a thousand miles away.

Most people count themselves blessed if they have one place in this world where they feel welcomed, loved, and accepted. I have many, and I know that I will always count Casserly House among those places.

Instead of complaining about not having the people I love with me, or being far away from the city I know, or complaining about how my heart usually feels torn into pieces, I need to be grateful that I have places and people I love so dearly–and people that love me back.

I should just be happy that I have so many places that I love. In the immortal words of Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

And even though I’m so far away, I hope they know that I’m still thinking of them, praying for them, walking with them.

2012.

2012 will be a year I always remember, and for that, I am grateful. For so long, my life after 2011—the year I would graduate from college—was just a big question mark of uncertainty. I am grateful for the year I have had that has been full of challenges, blessings, surprises, laughter, tears, and transitions.

I began the year by vowing to make mistakes, among other resolutions. I wasn’t successful at some of those resolutions (I definitely didn’t read 52 books), but 2012 was certainly about making mistakes—lots of them. From having discipline techniques at After School at Casserly House fail miserably to setting the alarm system off at my new job on my fourth day of work, I made a lot of mistakes. From tripping over my own two feet to stumbling over my words, I was far from perfect. And I am so grateful for each of those embarrassing, painful, and awkward mistakes because they represent the chances I was brave enough to take.
As already mentioned, 2012 was overwhelmingly a year of transition: two cities and one tiny town, two and half jobs, four very different living situations, and ten “roommates.” It was a whirlwind, and I can’t believe I ended up here in many ways. A year ago, I wouldn’t have predicted 90% of what has happened in 2012. Transitions aren’t easy, but I am so grateful for God who remains with me throughout it all, understands my fear of change, encourages me to embrace the vulnerability of newness, and keeps surprising me.
2012 was a lesson in learning to trust my heart. It was applying to grad school, getting acceptance letters in the mail, and feeling… nothing. It was turning down acceptances to really good grad programs in favor of the unknown. It was the decision between staying in Boston and coming back to Missouri. It was realizing that, for now, what was pulling me back to the Midwest was stronger than what was keeping me in Boston. It was moving back home without a plan and trusting that it all would fall into place. (And it was being thrilled when everything somehow did.)
2012 was figuring out what I wanted—and then changing my mind (because that is allowed). It was caring enough to let my heart get a little broken. It was feeling so much that it was sometimes overwhelming, but knowing that embracing those feelings indicates a form of self-awareness that makes me stronger. It was saying how I felt, even though at that moment it felt like the most terrifying thing in the world. 2012 was not having regrets, being eternally grateful for the kindness of strangers, learning patience, and being continually blessed by the relationships in my life.

2012 was nights falling asleep to Mat Kearney and the sound of the commuter rail, listening to “Shake it Out” by Florence & The Machine on the morning of my 23rd birthday, a summer defined by Maggie’s mix CDs, and a fall with Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers on repeat (and okay, Taylor Swift’s new album too). It was watching the entire first season of Girls in 24 hours, not because my life resembles a cast of HBO characters, but because that whole idea of “kind of maybe getting it together” resonates.

2012 was my daily walk to Casserly House, wandering around the South End and hearing “Boston” by Augustana play at the perfect moment, eating popsicles with Mike, picnics at the Public Garden, and sleeping on the Casa Taj balcony. It was quiet drives on my favorite country roads, so much beautiful time with family, playing assistant wedding planner, endless resumes and cover letters, and the feeling I had when I stepped into my new office for the first time. It was learning a new workplace, figuring out life as an FJV, and watching the sun set over the St. Louis skyline and falling in love with this city all over again.

What is 2013 going to be about? At this rate, it’s hard to say. I have lots of hopes, but I’m still pretty into the idea of making mistakes—but I’m also intent on learning from them and putting a few of the lessons I’ve already learned into practice. I hope I keep growing. I hope I keep challenging myself. And mostly, I hope I keep being surprised by life and myself.

Thank you for a beautiful year, friends. I wish you all the best in 2013.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful. And don’t forget to make some art, write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And somewhere in the next year, I hope you surprise yourself.” –Neil Gaiman

P.S. And quite obviously, I took way too many pictures of sunsets in 2012.