Well, it’s no secret that the trillions of miniscule white dots falling from the sky are at the forefront of everyone’s minds lately. Between shoveling, traffic, and cabin fever, I think it’s safe to say we’re all dreaming of summer. While I am one with the crowd in wishing I could be soaking up the sun, I can’t say I am particularly rushing the arrival of this mid-year season; because that just means an incredible year of service with a remarkable community has drawn to a close.
Now, I could get all mushy and cry about the fact that there are only four months left of this service term…OR I could choose to use these next four months to grow, share, improve, and absorb the beauty of the extraordinary community I have been fortunate enough to find a home in-both at my work site and with my fellow service corps members.
On Friday, January 30th, our community nestled into the warmth and comfort of Evan’s House, which is a part of a collection of retreat houses on Stonehill’s campus, for our midyear retreat. We began the day by kicking off our snow-covered boots, reclining on some couches and chairs, and accompanying our impending mental reflection with some physical relief as well. The morning portion of our retreat primarily consisted of turning inward for some spiritual contemplation and examining how we’ve grown and what we’ve learned through our service thus far. The afternoon segment, however, allowed us to turn this examination of our strengths and weaknesses into a productive and tangible method of growth.
We used this time to review the House Covenant we made for ourselves at the beginning of our service term back in August. I think this was an enlightening experience for each of us in different ways. Personally, I was struck by how well we had upheld the items in our House Covenant, even without the conscious realization that we had placed them in such a formal document at the beginning of our term. For example, recycling and composting, notifying community members of our plans to have guests over in a timely manner, and setting aside a portion of our stipend for grocery shopping all became second nature to us within just a few weeks of living in the house.
However, there were some components of the Covenant that we could improve upon for our concluding months of our service term, both individually and as a community. We took the time to make lists of what we have been doing well, what we can improve upon, and how we can improve upon it. Just some of the things we have come up with are an updated chore chart and limiting ourselves to only purchasing 1 or 2 new items per month.
While the latter portion of our retreat was highly constructive and focused on what could use a little bit of improvement, I think what I took away most from that day was just how much I have grown from this year already. I have learned how to put together a decent meal (most of the time…) for nine people, how to budget and allocate money throughout the month, and how to thrive in a full-time job while making strong professional relationships at my service site. I walked away from Evan’s house with an immense sense of gratitude for the personal growth I owe to my community, my service site, and my Stonehill family. The rest of the year will fly by, but we have committed ourselves to try not to dwell on how much time we have left or what lies next, but to strive to make each day better than the one before it.