Almost one month into my work here at Life Together, I was finally able to experience the fullness of this community. Last Friday was my first experience of a training day, my first opportunity to meet all of this year’s fellows. At 9am, I went downstairs to the training room, excited for what the day would bring, but also nervous, uncertain as to how the day would go.
When I entered the room, the lights were dim, the chairs arranged in rows -- half facing one direction, half the other -- an altar in the center of the room. fellows, Prayer Partners, and staff members took their seats. The chime dinged. Worship began with an opening prayer, followed by a chant. As the words settled into my body and the melody stirred within me, I felt my shoulders soften, my nerves slip away. As I chanted these words with this new community of mine, I felt welcomed, at home, held in the palm of God’s hand.
That moment of worship summarizes my experience of my first month here at Life Together. I have felt genuinely welcomed into this community, certain that this work is what I am meant to be doing at this moment in my life. It was bittersweet to leave Charlottesville, VA, where my partner and I have lived and worked and gone to school for 9 out of the past 11 years. But we could not deny God’s voice calling us to Boston, and I could not deny God’s voice calling me to Life Together.
After a few years of working in the arts and education at the University of Virginia, I began to explore contemplative practices and their place in higher education and discernment. The contemplative approach seemed to me to be necessary when asking young people to engage with both their desire to make the world a better place, and the harsh realities of the world around us. This exploration led me to take a deeper dive into my own faith and spirituality, and in August 2015, I moved into a part-time role at UVA in order to join the Fellows program at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlottesville. At Christ Church, I worked primarily with college students, senior citizens, and contemplative ministries; worked through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises with a Spiritual Director; and continued my own theological education and discernment. I could not have imagined that the conclusion of my decision to step into ministry would be accepting this position with Life Together! It seems to be a perfect fit for my interest, skills, and experiences.
I look forward to continued discernment of my own vocation, even as I walk alongside and support the Life Together fellows, staff, and alumni in doing the same work. This month’s newsletter features two such stories of discernment, from fellow Anna Shive and alumna Samantha Akwei, ‘14 . We each walk along our own paths, seeking to discover and live out our true vocations, and to do God’s work in the world--whether that work is in a church, in our communities, or simply in our own homes and families. I am continually guided by the words of Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I am so glad that our journeys have brought us together in the important work that Life Together is doing. Thank you for the warm welcome you have already offered to me. I look forward to meeting and working with you all.