Tag Archives: New Jersey

Closing Chapters

I’m writing this in a room which no longer feels like my own, getting ready to pack up my final batch of belongings and complete my move to New Jersey. I actually started my new adventure two and a half weeks ago, but I still hadn’t closed up shop here in Chicago.  I knew I was coming back for my Dad’s 81st birthday celebration this week, and so I staged the work of moving into two phases. Hence, while I left my grad school life on January 6th to begin my adventures in leadership land January 7th, it’s only now that I really feel closure on this wonderful chapter in my life.

As I woke up this morning, I found myself feeling very grateful for all the learning I was blessed to experience in this room. Reading late into the night, writing drafts of papers, etc…  I also thought of all the skype calls and conference calls I participated in from this room, helping to plan the Giving Voice Conference, engaging in theological reflection with CSJP people, praying together across the miles. I remembered the great conversations with friends, the silly movies and episodes of Project Runway I watched as I colored with markers to reset my brain.  The good nights of eight hours of sleep. Much of the past two and a half years has taken place in this CTU dorm room. It has been so very good and I am incredibly grateful for this chapter of my life.

These days of finishing up packing and finalizing the move have also held chances to visit again with family and friends. Relationships have also been an incredible blessing of this time. This has been the first time in my entire adult life that I have lived in the same city as  family members.  I’ve also been blessed to have a group of Giving Voice friends in town, and even living down the hall! Then there are the wonderful friends I’ve made through CTU. I know the relationships will continue, and for that I am very grateful, but it was also nice to have a chance to visit in person one last time as a fellow resident of Chicago.

In my prayer this morning, I also found myself remembering with gratitude all the chapters of my life so far. Some of them ended quite clearly, as this one has. Others sort of faded out into the next chapter before I even realized it. But each one has had its blessings, its learnings, its opportunities for growth, its challenges and sad moments too. All of it adds up to who I am today as I step onto the pages of the next chapter.

Early last month I shared a video prayer reflection I created set to “Write Your Story” by Francesca Battistelli. I share it here again because it was part of my morning prayer, and seems entirely fitting as I close my CTU Chapter and step more deeply into my new adventure in community leadership.

“I’m an empty page, I’m an open book, write your story on my heart, come on and make your mark.
Author of my hope, maker of the stars, let me be your work of art.
Won’t you write your story on my heart?”

Appreciating Saturday

For the past two and half years, I have been a full time student. And for three years before that, I was working full time and a part time student. Consequently, Saturdays (and often Sundays) have been either homework days or days that I do something else but feel like I should be doing homework. Rarely was I able to just be  on a Saturday.

Sun shining over the Congregation Offices
Sun shining over the Congregation Offices

The past two Saturdays, however, have been just that, an opportunity to be and settle into my new reality. There is lots of work to be done of course, and sometimes that will involved weekends. But rest and leisure and relaxation and renewal are also crucial to avoiding burnout. Hence, I’m really reconnecting with and enjoying the possibilities of a Saturday.

This morning I went on a long walk in the woods. I passed by Shalom Center where we have our Congregation Offices, but did not go inside. Instead I kept on walking, into the nearby park and onto the wooded trail towards the GW Bridge. It was cold and brisk but oh so lovely. A great way to start a simple Saturday.

Settling In

Winter on the grounds of east coast groovy sister hq
Winter on the grounds of east coast groovy sister hq

Today has been a wonderful lazy Saturday of gently settling in to my new (this time around anyway) surroundings. I moved to New Jersey on Tuesday and began my new gig on Wednesday. I’m living with some of the women who I will have the pleasure of serving with, over the next 6 years, on our congregation leadership team.

I qualify my new surroundings as new to me this time around, because I’ve actually lived here before. This is where I made my novitiate, and I’m actually living in the same house. It’s nice because it’s familiar. But it’s also nice because it’s different.

Today I went out a bit to explore and reorient myself to the neighborhood. I was happy that I remembered the back way, avoiding gridlock on the highways, to the hospital we sponsor. I then explored and found a new-to-me thrift store, where I found some new-to-me things!

This afternoon I took a nice leisurely walk on the grounds and to the neighboring park. We had some snow yesterday morning, and since it is quite cold it is still fresh looking and quite beautiful on the trees.

My room is starting to feel like home. I brought some things with me on the plane and shipped a couple of small boxes. The box with the items for my prayer space came today, which makes me very happy. In two weeks I will head back to Chicago for my Dad’s birthday and get the rest of my belongings.

I am grateful for this quiet day to just be and settle in. God is good, and community is a blessing.

Peace, friends.