"Let the rains go. Let the healing river flow.
Let justice roll like waters. Let the day begin when new life enters in
And let your kingdom come."I got the chance to spend this past weekend at the beautiful Ghost Ranch in New Mexico as part of the final stage of my YAV year that I recently finished. Here, at Ghost Ranch, was where the program decided to hold its transition retreat. A chance for those of us who just finished our year of service to come together once again and learn about how to transition back into regular life and what that transition might look like.
I had been looking forward to this retreat ever since I started my YAV year last August. It was a chance to see some of my fellow YAVs, most of whom I had not seen in over a year. As we were gathering at the airport, it felt so great to talk with them again and reminisce about the past year and share stories and adventures that occurred to us over the last year. I was really struck by just how many of us had similar stories to tell. Different locations of course but the same general stories about helping the under-privileged or fighting the system or feeling like a complete and utter failure at what you are doing. Good to know that the world is actually a lot smaller than we think and that people everywhere are struggling with the same issues.
The actual retreat itself was full of positive but emotionally draining sessions that talked about all the different transitions that would be necessary from this past year. We had small group time which allowed us to tell our stories to someone else free of judgement or comment. It was really good to hear that upon ending the year and returning "home", many of us experienced the same feelings of disorientation and confusion and even a sense of loss. It made me feel better to know that I wasn't the only one who dealt with those feelings.
Later in the weekend, there was a special service of healing and wholeness in which we were invited to let go of everything from the past year. All the hurt, all the pain, the anguish and grief and bitterness was brought forth, named and given up to God. It was really powerful and honestly, really healing for me. This past year was great in so many years but there was also a lot of anguish, grief, pain, bitterness, anger, fear and even some hate. It felt good to be able to release that and give it up to God. I genuinely felt like a huge burden had been lifted; one that I had been carrying around for far too long. All that pain is gone and I feel like a different person. There was also a special session during the weekend for those who had experienced some sort of trauma over the past year. If you have been reading this blog at any point in the past year, you should hopefully be aware of the kind of trauma I went through last year. It felt really healing to attend a group therapy session and hear other people's stories about the trauma they went through. I've always been a big advocate for therapy (might need to start going again while I am in school) but this was the first time I had ever done a group therapy session. So much better in so many ways. Having that safe space where I felt I could speak my mind and not be judged was so vitally important to me. It felt good to publicly say some of the things that had been weighing on my mind over the last year. Things I can't even post on here because too many people view this thing. Yet, in that safe space, I felt like I could be open and honest about everything and say what was on my mind.
The last sessions dealt with the concept of new beginnings which was really important to talk about seeing as how I just started a new beginning by moving out to the West Coast for school. After this weekend, I feel a lot better about school and have a renewed sense of purpose. I feel very refreshed and re-invigorated and am ready to get back into the swing of things. I'm not going to let school stress me out anymore. If I need to drop a class because the stress level is getting to me, then I am willing to do that. I can always retake a class but I can't always recover from having a nervous breakdown or going crazy or whatever else could potentially happen to me if I let myself get too worked up. I know that this is where God wants me to be and that with his help, I can do this. I need to remember to practice good self care and recognize when my body is telling me that enough is enough. That's gonna be the hardest part. I've mentioned before that I am a hard core Type A and seminary is the perfect environment for that as there is always so much to do. Of course, that also means there is a danger that I will do too much and burn out like I did in high school. So, I just need to know how to listen to my body and accept when I have enough on my plate. While I'm still sometimes questioning my decision to come here, I have to trust that God has a purpose and a plan for my life that includes me being at seminary.
This past weekend was spent in an absolutely beautiful part of the country with some of the most amazing people I know. It was exactly the break I needed and helped give me the motivation I needed to start school again. Here's hoping I can keep that momentum going throughout the rest of the semester.