With Dis-Orientation just completed for the current JVs, I feel obligated to reminisce on where my heart was just twelve short months ago. Raise your hand if you were simply ecstatic for the arrival of DisO and the accompanying end of your JV year! (…too soon?)
A lively and healthy difference of perception preoccupied the dinner table and living room of Casa Rutilio Grande in Houston, TX, as my housemates and I expressed, reiterated, and revised our sentiments on DisO, as it crept closer and closer on the community calendar. Two camps quickly set up shop. I aligned myself with Team GTFO in one corner, which heralded DisO as the gatekeeper to greener pastures and our upcoming adventures as FJVs.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I did, and continue to, cherish my identity as a Jesuit Volunteer. I came to adopt Houston as my home, and I loved my housemates and clients at my placement. At the retreats and festivities throughout the year, I met some of the most remarkable and compassionate people I have ever encountered, and I feel truly blessed to call them my friends. Never did I imagine that my JV year would have given me such a meaningful and rich sense of purpose. At the same time, with that very necessary and honest qualifier on the table, I was ready to get-the-eff-out of JVC.
Standing in the other corner, accompanied by wisdom, patience, and optimism, stood Team Feet. This housemate, and the de facto captain of Team Feet, religiously repeated his mantra around the house, pleading the housemates of Team GTFO to “be where our feet are.” He correctly pointed out that being present with each other and our greater Houston community enriched our JV experience together, and this state of mind was more prevalent now than ever before as the days dwindled between us and DisO. Somehow, it seemed much easier said than done at the time, and the ideological tug-of-war continued throughout June and July as we boarded the plane to Michigan.
No matter what DisO signified, symbolized, or meant for my future, it was one of the greatest weeks of my life. In typical Jesuit fashion, the retreat space reminded me more of a lakeside resort, nestled in a patch of forest in Omena within walking distance of the breathtaking Lake Michigan. The vibe among the Central region JVs felt vibrant: an overpowering glow of pure happiness to be in the company of the few that would forever understand and feel the highs, lows, and experiences of simply being a Jesuit Volunteer.
I immediately felt at home with these extraordinary people. For the next four days my heart overflowed with boundless love for them and their validation of me that they radiated in their unique, yet undeniably similar, year of service and solidarity. I had been so preoccupied with myself and my community in the other retreats that the gravity of my greater company did not dawn on me until we sat with Curt on the shore of our lake on the first night of DisO.
I lifted my head during that first spirituality night to find myself surrounded by angels: the next leaders in public defense, homeless outreach, medicine, urban development, public office, education, immigration and asylum law, civil rights, and rehabilitation flanked me on both sides. Tears rushed to my eyes and humbled my gaze, because I knew it was a blessing, an act of grace, simply to share time and space with them.
DisO engrained itself in my heart and memory, and I think of my fellow Central JVs every day. In this spirit, I want to give a huge shout-out to the current JVs returning from their Disorientation. I want to acknowledge the co-mingling of happiness and sorrows they experienced over the past year, to congratulate them for embracing the radical decision to be ruined for life, and to pray for them as their year comes to a close. I love them, and I love my fellow Central JVs that shared their DisO with me.
As I write this post, I smile with pride to call myself an FJV, to be ruined for life. I would never have it any other way.
Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash