The two best years of my life have now come and gone and as I begin to make sense of them and what is to come, I am hopeful that I can continue to say that each passing year is the best year of my life. You see, one of the most permeating lessons I've learned over the past two years is that joy is in everything because God is joy and God is in everything, sometimes it just takes a little effort to find that joy.
So here I sit, anxiously awaiting the next step of my journey while desperately clinging to the life I'm leaving behind. Ironically, I am not going too far from that life, physically and logically. I will be living just around the corner from the Inn and will also continue to work with the same population as well as the friars (well, one of them). And fortunately, I look forward to living with a former housemate who continues to be a huge source of strength and support for me. Despite all that outwardly remains the same, I have this sinking feeling that there won't be too much about my future that resembles my time with FVM. I am losing the daily and constant interaction with the sisters, friars, and lay team, in addition to the loss of a community that has completely enveloped my being for the past two years.
I think this is where we are called to be bigger than ourselves, to find the joy when it may not be so easy, to let the past two years affect the choices I make and how I live my life. FVM is one of those things that will take years to unfold all that it has done to change and effect me. For someone who appreciated cooking dinner for 350 people because I got to see the finished product, I have come to appreciate the longevity of such an experience because of the intangible ways Saint Francis Inn helps the people it serves.
Since my last post, I have been on closing retreat with my wonderful housemates, Fr. Michael and our program director, Katie. We were joined by Dan Schmidt, a former FVM, and the St. Vincent Pallotti Center, a long-term volunteer support agency. Our trip to Faulkner, Maryland should have only been about 4 hours, but as usual on a Michael Duffy road trip, it took us 7 hours to get there. Stopping for food and bathrooms multiple times each, we finally made it to the Loyola Retreat House only to be up against a silent retreat! Thankfully we weren't under the same requirements! The house overlooked the Potomac River, though not clean, afforded us picturesque views and a nice way to cool off!
(I must say that Katie took this picture, I am not nearly as talented a photographer as she)
With talks on life post-FVM and transition, we were able to relish our final days with each other with some tears and lots of laughs!
We returned to Philly Thursday evening and had dinner all together in New Jersey. Friday was spent cleaning our house for our wonderful successors and we were even able to take in a movie! Saturday brought more tears and our goodbyes to one another.
(also a Katie picture)
I picked up my brand-new car before heading home and drove myself to New Hampshire then on to Boothbay Harbor, Maine to join my family for a vacation. We went on a whale watch and were joined by some family friends for a couple days.
While struggling to enjoy the present and my time at home, I'm still longing for the life that awaits me in Philadelphia! Upon my arrival to Philadelphia on August 18th, I have orientation for graduate school, a trip to New York City with some friends, and then I begin work on the 24th! There is much to look forward to and I am anxious to see what God has in store for me!
Again, thank you all for your continued prayers and support. I will do my best to continue posting but I believe I am being given the honor of writing the blog for Saint Francis Inn, once the new website gets up and running, so if I don't update this, at least read up on that and what's going on there! Much love and blessings poured out for you all!