My internship with SSJE at Emery House has been an unparalleled experience – life-enriching to say the least. Amidst the quiet offered by the beautiful grounds of Emery House and the wisdom circulating among all of the Brothers, I have caught a glimpse of what it means when people use the phrase, “find yourself.” I recently reflected to a friend this very idea, telling her that I think that phrase is misleading: You hear about people going off to foreign lands to “find themselves,” as if they are going geocaching and the person they are to be will be waiting at some coordinate, or received like a nicely packaged parcel. But what I have found here, in the balanced flow of monastic life, is that every day when you wake up you are finding yourself, and you have to look. It’s hard work. I have found I constantly have to remind myself that I have to fight for who I truly am. This place has been host to a me I’ve never known before.
When I signed on for this internship I came with the intention of learning about both agriculture and a new form of Christianity that I had never been exposed to before. I had no idea that I would learn so much about myself. At such a vital time in my life – having just graduated college and frankly having no idea what the next step would be – I couldn’t have come to a more suitable place. Spending nine months at one of the most beautiful sites I’ve had the honor of being invited to, among some of the wisest souls I’ve met, following the most balanced routine I’ve ever had, completely shifted my mode of thought and planning. It has made me stop and pay attention. Before, while my intentions were in a good place, my priorities and methods of discernment were anything but sustainable. In fact, I had no idea what the word “discernment” even meant, much less how to go about doing such a thing. I just thought, “Well I have an education which has put me in debt so now I have to make some money. Uh, how do I do that?” Well, I have learned in my time here a wholistic approach to such a question, one that encompasses attentiveness to my own needs, desires, and ambitions, in the context of a realistic and meaningful life. Though my position as intern is only temporary, the bonds I have built here are never ending. This place and the people I have met will occupy a permanent spot in my heart.