Saturday, June 9, 2012

So, how do you measure a year? Measure in love...

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

Wow, it’s already June 9!!  Which means in a little over a month my AMA year is over.  It has gone amazingly fast, too fast for my own liking.  It has been full of ups and downs and rotaries aka traffic circles (right Sr. Catherine and Liz?) and detours, but I wouldn’t trade any of it at all!
I am now in the process of trying to figure out what all of this has meant to me.  How exactly have I changed?  What exactly is different about me?  Am I any closer to knowing what it is I want to do for the rest of my life?  These are all questions without answers at this point in time…and I’m 100% ok with that for now.  For so long I have told myself that I need to have a solid plan and have every question answered at the beginning and end of everything, but really, sometimes you just have to go with the flow and know that God will bring you closer to where you need to be!
This year has been a lot of learning, growing, cake baking, laughter and love.  I have also learned to love the quirkiness of Worcester residents (Liz and I believe there might be something in the water that adds to the quirkiness, because we may have picked it up too).  I also love all of the people I have been with this year, from my housemates/community mates Kristen and Liz, to the sisters, to all of the kids in our mentoring program, our ESL students, and our garden families.  So many people came into my life this year and have shared so much love with me.  I know in every entry I talk about the love, but to be honest, that is the only way to describe what this year has been all about.  Everyone, including people we had met once during the whole year, has showered Liz and I with so much love and support.  There is no way to describe all of the love, and how it has felt to be loved by so many.
If I was leaving Worcester on July 15th for good, I would be feeling much worse about leaving, but thankfully I will be leaving Worcester for only a month and then returning as the Program Coordinator for Assumption Center.  Assumption Center is where I live right now and is also where all of our programs are run out of.  I am blessed that I will be able to spend another year here in Worcester, working with all of our wonderful kids and adults in all of our programs!
And even though I will be returning in August, I am still sad about this year ending.  It has been a truly wonderful year, totally different than what I had expected, but amazing nonetheless.  This year has opened my eyes to so many things, including my own strengths.  I can never list all this year has been, and will continue to be for the rest of my life.  I still have another month here as an AMA and I know in that time more AMAzing things will happen.

So for now all I can do is just enjoy this last month as an AMA, with whatever comes my way, and try to start really thinking about what this all has been for me…

Our end of the year cake: 525,600 minutes...How do you measure a year?  Measure in love and in laughter, service, joy, icing, faith, friendship, hugs and hope.

Monday, February 20, 2012

"Measure in Love"

Below is my reflection for the February AMA newsletter that I will share with you all:

“We’re completely lost in our own world – egoists!  Or maybe we’re locked into ourselves, and even though we want to break out, we can’t seem to do it.  It takes someone else to help us, a person who breaks in or has a way of letting us out.  Or we stumble into some moment, some situation, that wakes us up, gets us enough off track to open up our eyes, our ears, our musty minds!” – William Carlos Williams

Sometimes we all just need to be taken out of our own world and brought back to reality and we never know what will bring us back.
                All of our programs started up again at the end of January after a break for Christmas and the New Year.  The start of this semester of programs meant something new for me; I was now in charge of our mentoring program.  I wasn’t just helping out; I was totally in charge of it.  This thought, that I would be in charge, totally freaked me out and was the only thing on my mind for weeks prior to the start of mentoring.  This thought consumed all of my thoughts and actions and I was so nervous I would mess something up or do something wrong or fail the program.  One thing I was told by Kristen, the former program director, was that all I needed to do was to love the kids and everything would be fine, not to worry about anything else.  She also told me that there was no way for me to mess anything up because everything would just fall into place the first day no matter how much I planned or freaked out.  Ok, so all I needed to do was to love these kids with all of my heart and everything would be ok?  I was going to try.
                That whole Wednesday I couldn’t keep my thoughts straight and my nerves were already shot before getting to mentoring.  We put all of the supplies out, put snack out and that just left waiting for the kids and mentors to show up, when my role would really kick in.  So as I was anxiously sitting and waiting, about half of our kids showed up.  All that could be heard was “I love you guys”,” I’ve missed you so much”, “where’s my hug?!”, “ahh I’m so excited to be at mentoring again”, and my personal favorite that gave me a good chuckle “what’s for snack?”.   But my favorite part of this moment was when one of our younger kids, Kathy, came running at me full speed, stopped about a foot from me and jumped up into my arms.  As Kathy jumped into my arms, she said “I’ve missed you soooooooo much!!!”.  In that moment everything I had been worrying about melted away.  I that moment I knew everything would go well.
                Without knowing it, Kathy brought me back to the reality of everything, back into the present.  She brought me out of my mind and into the moment.  I knew that even if I did make a mistake, these kids would still love me and shower me with hugs “just because”.  I knew deep down in my heart that my love for these kids is huge and nothing could ever change that. 
                All of these moments that I share with the kids are the special moments that I could possibly miss by staying locked inside of myself but these kids bring me back to the present on a daily basis, just by being themselves.  I am constantly reminded of how blessed I am to have these kids in my life, as all I need is a hug from one of them for my day to be turned around.  They are constantly running into the meeting room where mentoring is held and rushing for hugs.  I also get the occasional “I love you soo much”, which is truly amazing when these kids look into your eyes and say that with such emotion.  It’s hard to believe that I didn’t know these kids prior to August, but yet they have so much love for me, and I them.  These kids bring me back to the reality of what this year is all about just by being themselves.  Being brought back to the reality of this year is exactly what I need, to be reminded that this year is all about the people and experiences with the people; it’s not necessarily about the actual “doing” of things but of the “being” with the people.  
All of the kids I work with in mentoring bring something different to the table.  They all have their different talents and skills, but they all do it with love.  They bring so much love and energy into everything they do and say.  And that’s what this whole year is about…love!!  Back in our AMA Orientation, the 4 of us decided our theme was going to be “525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year?  Measure in love.” And that’s what I am doing, I am measuring this year in love.
If I get nothing else from this year but love, I would say that this is a wildly successful year.  Knowing I have been given so much love by so many people and also am giving so much love to so many, I know that love is more important than anything else I could gain.  Love is something that stays with a person, the kind words, the hugs, and the look in a person’s eye; that is all that matters in life.  Love.

I found this quote in a book I am reading called “The Call of Service” by Robert Coles, and I feel like it describes how I am starting to feel, knowing that over half of my year here in Worcester is over.  “I’ve got four more months here, and when I leave, that’s when I’ll be starting to figure out what this has all meant!  Probably for the rest of my life I’ll be influenced by what happened to me here – I now think differently.  I agree, it all could begin to wear off later.  But I doubt it.  Some of these kids have taught me a million times more than I’ve taught them.” – From “The Call of Service” 
This quote is so true; these kids are teaching me more than I will ever know.  But what I do know is that my heart is constantly full of so much love because of these kids and their families, who without knowing it, bring so much joy and love to my life and so many other lives as well.  So as I begin to think about what this year will have been for me and if I have made a difference at all, I know that this love which is shared is truly all that matters.
 In the words of Kristen “All you’ve got to do is love these kids, that’s all that matters

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"What are you looking for?"

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman
What are you looking for?
Those words, which Jesus uttered in this Sunday’s Gospel (1/15/12) really struck me.  While thinking about that simple phrase many things come to mind, but mostly what popped into my mind was the question I was asked over break “well then, what’s next after this volunteer year?”  And my honest answer is “I don’t know”.  I am not 100% sure where I will end up come July, and I am OK with that, God has a plan for me.  But the other answer I gave was “I’m still not sure what I want to do for the rest of my life, I can’t really define what it is I am passionate about”.  So, I guess I don’t exactly know what I am looking for in terms of what I want to do come July.  But one thing I do know is that while I don’t know what it is I am looking for, I feel like I will know what it is when I find it.
                I know going into this year I didn’t have many expectations of “what I was looking for”.  But I do know that one of the things I was looking for was to grow deeper in my faith, which I feel as this year progresses I am growing deeper in my faith.  Another thing I was looking for in my year was to form relationships with those with whom I would be working and also with those whom I would be living in community with.  I know I have been changed by all of those whom I work with, I just hope that come July I am not just “another AMA who passed through for the year” I hope that I am remembered for something I did or said. 
                But to answer what I am looking for, I am looking for another 6 months filled with many memories and wonderful moments.  Moments that I know I don’t want to rush through, because those moments will be what I remember.  So these moments are what I am looking for right now...