Sleepless for Spirituality

Stars over a lake at night

I jolted awake encased in a cold sweat early Monday morning. My lungs gasped for air as I recognized my surroundings. My heartbeat raged against the constraints of my rib cage. I had woken up in Weymouth, but my heart and dreams had taken me back to Houston.

Parents, friends, housemates, and FJVs at potluck spirituality nights know that I am truly terrified of losing the feeling of my JV year: the raw emotion, the anxious grapple with God, the heartbreak of ever so slightly and momentarily sharing in the suffering of the human beings we served. “Out of sight, out of mind” is real and dangerous territory for me as an FJV, for my life at home is so radically different than the daily joy and toil of being a JV. I consequently hold the associated memories and relationships ever closer to my heart; they are treasures that have humbled and shaped me in such powerful ways. And while I try to maintain a sense of the past year through conversations and this blog, nothing captures it as poignantly as my dreams.

Sunday night’s dream was no exception. My best friend Alex and I were laughing, soaking up the sun, taking in the view of lake and surrounding forest, and making a toast with some of our favorite beers. I felt so peaceful, so light, so carefree. This feeling didn’t last. As an eerie shadow fell over me, Alex disappeared. In his place materialized two of my former clients, who I love dearly. Immediately, the intimate details of their trials and triumphs in recovery, flooded my subconscious. I couldn’t help but swell with pride. But the reunion quickly dissolved to despair as I became ashamedly aware of the aluminum can loosely clasped between my fingers. Outrage ensued. My clients, my friends, screamed their feelings of betrayal. How could I do this to them?! How could I let them down?! How could I possibly leave Houston to drink and go out with my friends when they still had to wake up the next day, praying that it would be a sober one? At the mercy of my darkest devices, I helplessly watched as they fumed and fermented until they finally snapped, relapsing in front of my eyes before I could wrestle myself awake.

Dreams like these by no means overshadow my memories of JVC. The men at the center are my friends – we played basketball, talked about sports, and collectively contemplated our divine purpose – and I love them. At the same time, I can’t simply shrug off these nightmares. They remind me of the fact that their lives and struggles continue even though I am gone, and they beg me to question how my life after JVC serves people besides myself. This question warrants consistent attention in regards to all of the core values. What does simple living look like as a graduate student or a corporate paralegal? How is social justice intertwined with my career and not simply a hobby I try to fit in on the weekend? How do I approach living with my parents again as an intentional community? Where do I find spiritual sustenance when my work doesn’t revolve around solidarity with others? I believe that these questions will never be fully answered for me, but there will be a sense of peace and fulfillment that will let me know when I am moving in the right direction.

I had hoped to focus on spirituality for my future posts, but this dream resonated with me. While y’all fully deserve to be sleeping well at night, I know these questions burn brightly for some of us as we redefine ourselves post JVC. Until next time, I hope that you find the peace of taking the right path in your journey.

Photo by Tyson Dudley on Unsplash

About ejdelu17

Hi! I am a son, older brother, thinker, and doer from Weymouth, MA. I served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Houston, Texas in 2017-2018 as a social services intern at a men's homeless shelter and rehabilitation center. Now, I am excited to unearth my JV year by peering into the depths of my experiences and sharing the joy, sadness, frustration, and hope that persist as I continue my journey towards self-discovery. I invite you to come take a walk with me and see where it takes us!