I haven't blogged as much as I theoretically would have liked to this year. Once a week would have been sweet, I guess, just so I could give you, dear readers, a better idea about what my day-to-day life is like, little ups and downs, ups and downs that felt like a much bigger deal, etc. (Those of you that I talk to on the phone semi-regularly know about the majority of that last one, I think, and maybe it's better that I not write about them in this blog...)
But this morning is Sunday morning of our end-of-year retreat. I got to sleep in the latest I've slept in in a while - by 10:30 I am either still at St. Luke's or just getting to Grace - and feel wonderful about it. And I think part of the reason I feel so good about the general state of things is because of how wonderful this retreat has been.
Two weeks from now will be my last Sunday at work and 1/3 of my community will have left. My community. Now I've struggled saying those words sometimes because of the struggles I've had this year with my community. But this retreat, something is happening that I don't think has happened all year and, honestly, could have happened earlier than this retreat, and not because of any one person - and that something is that I can feel a strong sense of intentional community.
Let me tell you what we've been doing because otherwise this is going to go on making no sense:
-Thursday (being forced to take 2 days off of work as a requirement of my year of service program is something I bet I will miss about LVC) we spent at our City Coordinator-now with a mid-year position name change Regional Director Janelle's house, along with our spiritual growth facilitator Mike. Janelle lives close to Midtown and I like her house a lot - it's beautifully decorated and just the right size for her and her twin boys, who are some pretty mischievously cute redheads. We did a lot of reflecting on our year through guided visualization and solo written reflection questions, ate lunch at a pretty yummy but a little snooty restaurant (I could write a whole blog post about different neighborhoods in Omaha), had some group discussion and watched a movie for our spirituality time called "The Man Who Planted Trees." Then after Austin made a really yummy dinner (all of our food has been great this retreat) I led spirituality time.
-Friday, we had our photo shoot, the results of which you can see on Facebook. We have many many prints of some of those pictures and we're not quite sure what we're going to do with all of them. (Mom, one is for you.) I led a conversation after lunch about this year's and future work for social justice, an emotionally draining topic that is a very important one to me. We went to dinner at a Mexican restaurant in South O that I suggested, and then did two things we had never done before - play the penny slots at Harrah's casino in Council Bluffs, IA (we won't be going back there any time soon) and indulged in "das Boot" at the one and only Crescent Moon, also in Midtown. the results of that you may not see on Facebook...we'll see...but it was really fun.
Then we built a fort in the Chapel and fell asleep in it.
-Saturday is what I really wanted to write about, I think. Sarah made a deliciously big breakfast and than Jackie led a quiet spirituality time that involved silent meditation and tea and bowing to each other, which I think was very good for our souls.
We had some down time while Sarah and Jackie went and grabbed a few things from the Farmers' Market, during which I decided to check Facebook for the first time since Wednesday, and was rewarded with learning that Patrick has a new job as a Chapter Coordinator (I'm pretty sure?) at Active Minds' national office in DC. (http://www.activeminds.org) And here is where the gratitude really starts. Patrick credits me a lot with bringing Active Minds to Oberlin, but the thing is, babe, you did SO MUCH WORK last year to keep the organization going and the mental health conversation open at our school last year, and I just cannot be more thrilled that you got the job. Like, I get more and more thrilled every time I think about it. Not only am I so happy for you and know how great this will be for your professional development (ooh big grown up words)...it just means so much to me because of how much I care about the mission of Active Minds and how closely we worked together on it and how much you care about it, too.
So that was a nice outside-community-life thing. After lunch, we doodled during Austin's simplicity presentation because he told us to, did some deep cleaning, and had 2 sessions of one-on-one time, which we're going to do 3 more of today. I'm really, really glad we're doing that. This is almost certainly stating the obvious, but I have a unique relationship with each of my housemates, and I am grateful for the time to focus on each relationship with them.
After dinner Sarah led spirituality time, and the first thing we did was check-ins. We do check-ins before many of our conversations, and you'd think we'd get sick of listening to each other talk about how we're feeling - but in intentional community it's important to know how each person is feeling and interesting/good/reaffirming to hear the similarities in how we're feeling.
We're all having a good time basically spending 4 days straight together. We're all anticipating a lot in the next two weeks. And I think we have all grown a lot this year, and are still growing, and I was the not the only one to say something along the lines of "this has been such a wonderful year".
That's the last time I'll be able to use the word "wonderful" in this post, cause it's time for me to get dressed.