Monday, February 15, 2016

New Transitions

During the weekdays I am a fourth grade teacher but on the weekends I am Rosie the Riveter. Living in Esopus has created a new sense of determination and strength inside myself. This semester I experienced a new transition in my life which has brought me so many challenges and opportunities. During the week I teach a classroom of 25 students, I dress professionally and really have a lot of new responsibilities. However, on the weekends I am still the same manual labor loving girl. This past weekend I was able to paint the stairs that lead to the choir loft in the main retreat house. As tired as I may have been from a long week of school I still had that amazing feeling of taking a step back and admiring the hard work that went into making a space more beautiful. I truly feel more like myself when I am able to do work and make a space more inviting. All you need sometimes is a little hard work and determination. Esopus is the one place where I am willing to push myself in order to achieve a goal that may seem out of reach.
Right now at this moment in my life I feel incredibly blessed and loved. I know that I am not the same person that started this volunteer program back in August. I am a better and stronger person. I have become more comfortable with waking up early every morning and getting ready and excited to step into that classroom everyday. I have learned how to bring the hospitality side of community into my classroom and share my love with my students. I have gotten pretty good at preparing my own lunch and snacks for school. I also learned so many new things and checked some big things off my goal list. I learned how to drive stick shift and tackle the riding mower. I also met so many new incredible people from Marist schools all over the country. I have been able to form bonds with these people that I may have never encountered before if I hadn’t been a part of this community. After all this when I look back at the crazy blur that is my life I feel so grateful and honored to see amazing and happy memories that come flooding into my head. I'm really lucky to be able to come home to such a beautiful place and have such an incredible Marist family supporting me.

So as crazy as my life may be right now I know with all of my heart that this is where I am supposed to be. Right here, right now with these people in this place having these experiences and letting them molded me into the person I am today. I am forever grateful.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Family Spirit

There’s always been something about family dinners for me.

When I was growing up, my family had dinner together as often as possible, despite our busy schedules full of sports, extra-curriculars,  errands, or appointments. Sometimes this meant we were eating at 5, and sometimes we had to wait until 8 when the last person got home. But it was a priority, and if it was possible we were sitting together and sharing a meal.

I was not surprised to find that same goes for my community here on property. We are always busy at the MBCE, and there are many conflicting schedules in play, but we also make it a priority to share meals with one another. Some of my favorite moments as a volunteer in the past year and a half have been with my Esopus community, gathered around the table to share stories and food and laughter with one another. The best meals are those that include everyone on property, from each of the three houses, and any guests that are visiting as well. And recently, my parents were able to join us for a home cooked meal - by me and Luis!

The tradition of coming together for meals is only a small part of the Marist approach to family spirit. It's about creating a welcoming and safe environment for your community, trusting one another, and forgiving each other when something doesn't go as well as it could. Family spirit is a way of living, a way that makes anyone and everyone feel welcome.

In my community, I love that it allows us to simultaneously keep each other accountable when we make a mistake and help each other to move forward and make things better. I love that we put thought into our Christmas presents, that we share our favorite movies and shows with one another, and always check in that things are going well.

In the end, family spirit is practiced in relationships. I see God in all of my communities. I feel God's love when I feel this sense of welcome and acceptance and friendship. And I spread God's love by approaching my communities with care and honesty.

So I challenge you to think about what family spirit means to you, and to practice that... Maybe even with a community dinner!