It’s just a few days from the solstice. The pinnacle of the year, the day the most sunshine will bathe this northern corner of our country. Right now we are getting almost 16 hours of sun, compared to the just under 16 hours of dark we will get 6 months from now. And in just under a month, I am reaching the end of my tenure as a Jesuit Volunteer.
It’s a scary venture to no longer be in JVC. Being a “JV” has defined me for the last two years. There are moments when I am excited to leave. I can’t wait to have control over my own checkbook, to just go grocery shopping when we’re out of food and not to need to have a community meeting first. I’m excited to have a paycheck (ha! Just kidding, that’s not gonna happen). I’m excited to not have to wear clothes that I don’t care if they are spit up on, accidentally bleached while cleaning, or somehow otherwise ruined.
It’s harder to define what I am sad about leaving. (Before you say goodness, she must’ve hated JVC, hear me out).
First, their are the trappings of JVC. Retreats, spirituality and community nights, area visits, meetings with support people. My retreats and area visits have already finished, and while I am sure one day I will miss them, they so recently finished, I don’t yet. In my Spokane community, we placed a much greater emphasis on community and spirituality nights than we have in Missoula. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it has been different. I defined much of my JV experience last year through those nights, and so they are already a part of JVC from which I have transitioned. My lifestyle is considerably less focused on simplicity this year than last, which is something I have mourned.
There are other “trappings” of JVC, the job, the location. These I won’t miss, since they won’t drastically change. I left for JVC on an adventure to see the wild west, but I will remain here. I wanted to explore somewhere exotic, like Alaska, see all that was new and different, and then return home. Plans change, and the way you see a place once you realize you will be staying changes too. I have been slower to discover Missoula this year. It’s also a little less exciting to experience sub zero winters when you realize it’s not the only time you will have to endure it. I haven’t bought any souvenirs or a t-shirt that says “Montana” because, well, that’d be weird to wear here. But Missoula feels much more like a home to me than Spokane did.
Then, of course, there is the job. I will miss my job, with all of its challenges, and with all the understanding it’s brought me. I will miss seeing my clients daily and recognizing the faces of people who are homeless all around Missoula. But I am not leaving completely. I will either work part time or be volunteering at the Pov in years to come.
Then there is the part of JVC other than the “trappings.” The values. And these I won’t miss, because I won’t be leaving them behind. I will still value community, simplicity, spirituality, and social justice.
So as the year slips back down to the long winter, I slip closer and closer to the end of my two years. But I guess there isn’t much to “miss” as I leave JVC. (my housemates of course! but even one of my housemates is staying, so that’s one less thing to miss!) My life will be drastically different leaving community and entering marriage, but will be quite similar too. Of course, the major constant will be that this year, last year, and next year, I will try to be loving tenderly, acting justly, and walking humbly with my God. Micah 4:6