It’s been 9 months since I started living in intentional community and serving as Volunteer Coordinator at a refugee resettlement agency here in LA. Working a 9-5 job and coming home to a wonderfully supportive group of housemates has allowed me to slow down, reconnect with myself and develop a spiritual life.
People often ask 20-something year olds what they want to do with their lives: they’re often asking for careers, categories in which they can place us. I do not know if I see myself fitting into a specific career, but I know the spirit I’d like to live my life in. I want to create spaces of communion: spaces where people don’t have to feel isolated. Spaces where people can find love. Spaces where they can receive and give spiritual companionship. If anything, I think recognizing how I want to live my life is far more important to me than choosing a career.
When I started my job in August 2018, resettlement numbers were at an all-time low: I did fewer tasks than what I had expected from my job description, or less frequently. With the unanticipated free time on my hands (and me being such a restless doer), it has been a challenge trying to be present at work. Many times, I easily slip into autopilot, dissatisfaction and a lack of fulfilment at work and in community. Lately, I’ve been unfulfilled in the mundanities and general lack of action at work, and feeling the desire to move on to The Next Thing - our year here is transient, anyway, right?
A big theme in my life has been my search for Home, for rootedness, groundedness: I cannot wait to settle down, at least geographically, for more than a year. I sometimes think that I cannot wait to go Home: that is where the work will begin. Once I get there, I will finally become all that I am meant to be. I will have discovered my vocation - my calling if you will - I will have confidently chosen what nourishes me, I will be plugged in to community, I will let my roots grow deeply and firmly, my days of wandering and drifting will finally be over. I hear myself saying: the time will come. It will come in a year, when you’ve chosen a grad program; in three years, once you’ve graduated and settled down in a geographical location.
However, I am learning that this, right now, is life - life is not something that will happen after I further my education, or after I finally rest my weary feet in a less-transient home base. Life - the work of Love that I want to do - is right now, with the people that are already in my life, with the skills and visions that I already have in my toolbag.
Instead of looking at different avenues to do that work, I’m learning to redirect my anxiously searching eyes to this place that I’m in at the moment: even though work isn’t what I expected it to be this year in LA, I’m choosing to see potential and opportunity to create spaces of communion at work, instead of seeing deserts and dead ends. The ESL class that we host at our agency, for example, is a space of communion, albeit an imperfect space of communion--but I don’t think communion isn’t meant to be perfect. Or rather, communion, shared by imperfect people can be perfect in its flaws. To be in true communion is to reap and receive the fulfillment of loving relationship, but also a willingness to be uncomfortable: in choosing to pour Love into a community that is here before my eyes, but that doesn’t look like what I wanted it to, I am learning many unexpected lessons about Loving and serving.
Voices of Service
These are reflections from corps members and alumni of Jubilee Year and the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. They cover topics ranging from the sun, fun and friends in in Los Angeles to the uncensored experiences of serving vulnerable populations in our beautiful city. These are Voices of Service. For more, go through our archives below