Reflections on a year with SSJE at Emery House
When I try to think of a phrase that sums up my year with SSJE, the words that come to mind are thank God.
I came to this internship year with the expectation that I would show up, meet the Holy Spirit, be filled with a sense of destiny regarding my career choice, and finally walk off into the sunset with the whole rest of my life figured out. Needless to say, this somewhat absurd image was done away with shortly after I arrived. Thank God I not only met the Holy Spirit, I also met Jesus, and the Father. I met some wonderful SSJE brothers. Brothers who have made me laugh, called my bluffs, and listened to me with open hearts. I met my fellow interns, who have inspired me by their example. It has been so life-giving to meet other young people who are also so dedicated to the life of the Church. I met my beautiful and beloved hospice patients, for whom it has been a privilege to volunteer. I met myself. I found, to my surprise, that I could like myself.
The year has brought its fair share of challenges. Finding a rhythm in a new context with unfamiliar words and a new schedule while surrounded by strangers was a difficult process. Thank God I did so, because I came to experience such a depth of well-being here. It was discovered that I needed months of physical therapy to overcome the remaining symptoms of a brain injury I sustained years ago. That was challenging, but thank God I had the time and support necessary to do that here.
I am most grateful, I think, for a new attitude to silence. When I first arrived, I confessed rather frankly that I didn’t get it. “Why would anyone want to just sit there and be silent, when they could be doing something?” I could not then conceive of silent contemplation as at all worthwhile. It has since transformed my life. In those moments of waiting upon God, and especially the few times I have experienced God directly in indescribable ways, my whole life has been flipped right side up. Knowing more about who God is has allowed me to claim with confidence the truth about who I am, who I truly am: God’s beloved child. Thank God.
I do not mean to say that I have the whole rest of my life figured out. The sunset does not yet beckon, no end credits are imminent. I only know what the next step or two will be. With my life flipped right side up and centered around God, that’s all I need.
I’ll end this reflection with a direct message to the community that has so loved and supported me this past year – thank you, brothers of SSJE. Thank you for creating this program, for accepting me and my fellow interns into it, and thank you for loving us through it. You have changed our lives by your welcome, your teaching, and your example. Thanks especially to Brs. John, Curtis, and Nicholas for the many ways you made living at Emery House a joy. Most of all, though, thanks be to God!
There was a Sunday afternoon when I was a child that I sat my mother down and demanded to know about life and death, where babies come from, and where we go. When my mother had answered all my questions to my satisfaction, I announced, “I’ve learned a lot today,” and left the room confident in my grasp of existence.