Monday, October 25, 2010

It's all about who you know.

Last weekend, I had a great weekend. SSJ Founders' Day, a trip to Ellis Island to see Women & Spirit, and a day of service with students from the Romero Center. It was a cherry on top of what had been a busy & hectic week.

Needless to say, though, after having a 12 hour day crammed into a 6 hour period (see: finding out your food bank has lost its funding, VdP clients causing problems, interns, and meetings running over) at the beginning of Founders' Day (Friday), all the activities for the weekend definitely posed their own set of stresses. Yet, since I had been looking forward to the weekend for quite some time, I vowed that even a stressful morning wouldn't detract from the day and all that the weekend held.

Hopefully I will write about the joy that was present in the many moments of the weekend at some point, but for now Saturday night (perhaps the dullest moment of the weekend) will be my focus. I know, I know- way to build up the post, Colleen!

By the time I reached Saturday night, I was exhausted. As we, my community mates and I, drove back to our house from Chestnut Hill College, we talked about the night that lay ahead; we'd been invited by another volunteer community to a party to watch the Phillies-Giants game with a group of year-long volunteers from various programs. There was a energy in the air, an excitment from one community mate to see a friend at the party and an anticipation of meeting new people.

Excitement may have been in the air, but it was slowly draining from my body. After having had a full day- having traveled to and from Ellis Island, making new friends with the retired sister from the Villa who I shared a seat with on the bus, and exploring the exhibit, as well as the Statue of Liberty- I could honestly say I was beat. Still, I wanted to go out and thought that I needed to. I mean, come on, you only live once and I will only have this experience once- in order to take full advantage of it, I need to do everything, take every chance, climb every mountain!

Yet, as I got out of the car to go into our house and get ready for more time out and about, I knew I wasn't going anywhere. It kind of just clicked in me, a piece falling into place. No matter how obliged I thought I was to go to the party- no matter how much I thought I needed to go, out of respect for my community and connection to this experience- I knew I was staying home for those exact same reasons. Out of respect for my community, I couldn't join them; In order to truly connect with this experience, I needed to take a night off, to recharge and to reflect.

The night was pretty uneventful; I cleaned, I cooked, I watched the game, I paused, and I regained peace. That's not to say I ever lost peace, it was just nice for a night to recognize- to re-know- that that peace had been there all along. It was also nice to be reminded that I know myself, even as I continually learn more and more about myself.

There are some things you know, but on occassion you find yourself rediscovering- reknowing, if you will- those things. To be able to catch myself, to feel that piece fall into place that told me I wasn't going anywhere, signaled that to me. My sophomore year of college I remember jostling with the questions of "Who am I?", "Whose am I", and "Who am I called to be?" in the Ignatian Residential College at Fairfield. Going into the year, I naively assumed that I would have those questions sorted out by my junior year- I mean if not all three, at least 2 of the 3 would be answered by then. Little did I know that those would be questions that would (and will) stay with (some would say 'haunt' ) me for the rest of my life, constantly evolving as I grow, taking on layers with each new revelation of self.

Being assured, though, that I am somewhere in the process of knowing who I am was enough for me on Saturday. As I sat on the couch watching the game and reading No Man Is An Island, the book that made me fall in love with Thomas Merton in my early teens, I reflected on how important it is to know yourself, whether you are doing manual labor, social services, or telemarketing.

There is nothing to be lost in the process (except maybe sleep. Oh yeah, and your ego.) In order to effectively do my job, I need to honestly and truly know myself. I need to be truthful enough about what I can do and what I can't. I need to know when enough is enough and when I'm making excuses for someone or something. In community, I need to know myself enough to share with others. And when tempted to judge or criticize those I live with or work with/for, I must remember that before I can even presume to know anyone else, I need to know myself.

As Thomas Merton says:

"In order to find God in ourselves, we must stop looking at ourselves, stop checking and verifying ourselves in the mirror of our own futility, and be content to be in Him and to do whatever He wills... "

"We must be content to live without watching ourselves live, to work without expecting an immediate reward, to love without an instantaeous satisfaction, and to exist without any special recognition... It is, therefore, a very great thing to be little, which is to say: to be ourselves. And when we are truly ourselves we lose most of the futile self-conscioucness that keeps us constantly comparing ourselves with others in order to see how big we are."

"We do not live more fully merely by doing more, seeing more, tasting more, and experiencing more than we ever have before. On the contrary, some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual."

Therefore, it is all about who you know. To better serve the community, I must better know myself; To better serve God, I must know myself as God created me to be; and to better know and be myself, I must give God the space to work in me and through me, continually causing me to re-know the people, places, and things in my life that I thought I knew in the first place. It's all about who you know; it's bigger than me, it's about knowing God, knowing others, and, in the process, realizing that there is a lot I may never know.

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