Today should be my first day of work, but alas, since today is the Feast of the Assumption, and I work for the Archidiocese, I have off today. While my housemates have been meeting the challenge of their first day of work, I have done plethora of things including making my commute to time it (~50min), exploring downtown and the Holy Name Cathedral, going the wrong way on a bus from the El stop, making a leisurely lunch at home, cleaning, buying groceries for my house,  blogging, and I will soon go cash my stipend check! Yay for a day off before work has even begun!

But since I do have a few extra minutes, I thought it would be cool to share some about what I’ve been doing these past few weeks. Like RA training, I was a dork and thoroughly enjoyed most of it while not everyone expressed as much acceptance of it. Also like RA training, I had the feeling several times that, “this is good life training! I wish everyone could have something of this sort!”

But here’s some snippets of what we learned and discussed and experienced:

  • Intentionality.  Be an active and aware participant in your life. Don’t just let it happen. Cultivate community purposefully. Make consumer decisions mindfully. That sort of thing.
  • Creating a safe space for sharing in our house communities (there are two other houses besides mine)
  • Always ask, What part of the problem am I?, in a conflict
  • We discussed the books we read, so I got to talk more about my love for Compassion, by Henri Nouwen 🙂
  • Self-assessment and personal mission statements
  • Neighborhood tours and dinner with Amate alums
  • Small group discussions on hospitality, internet, cell phone, guests in the house, etc. Lots of discussion on issues mentioned in the handbook.
  • Guest Speaker from Catholic Relief Services on The Common Good…. the idea that the good of all people matters and I can not flourish if not everyone is flourishing.
  • Servant Leadership.
  • Speaker on Professional Development. Good reminders but mostly what I liked was a quote from one of her sheets, “No reflection means no commitment.” Sound familiar?
  • Low Ropes course with our house communities.
  • First El or subway ride in Chicago last weekend! I feel like a pro already (I’m not actually) but I was stoked that first ride!
  • Chinatown
  • First Chicago-style pizza. HEAVEN ON EARTH!!! Sooooooo good.
  • Rode Ferris wheel at Navy Pier.
  • Conflict-style assessment (My highest score was the  “Accommodating” or “I lose. You win.” mindset)
  • Conflict and Nonviolent communication
  • The many forms of stewardship.
  • Discussion on Community and intimacy with two members of a Catholic Worker house. We get to know ourselves better in community, just fyi 😉
  • A Jesuit priest led us on a discussion the Examen and reflection in general. We live in a “culture of distraction.” Very rarely are we truly alone and not multi-tasking. We need to give ourselves the time. If we do this, we will develop the sense we are living our lives in God’s presence. We will find God in all things. Oh what joy!
  • Closed the week by signing the Amate House covenant that covers the aforementioned tenets of this program. It was a really meaningful ceremony and a wonderful spark with which to begin our year.

I hope that gives you at least a little insight for anyone who is curious what it actually means that I’ve been at orientation and hadn’t actually begun work yet.  Unlike RA training (which, by the way, it’s a little weird to think is going on right now yet I’m not a part of it lol), there was a lot of time built in for community-building. No surprise they would build that in, huh?! They just wanted to make time for us to just hang out and get to know each other before the busyness of our jobs set in. Another win for Amate House 😀

I hope that wasn’t too boring! As always, feel free to ask about something or comment if something sounds interesting. I can’t wait to share about work soon!!


Voluntary Displacement

For our orientation here, we had to read one of three books. Since I already owned one of the options, Compassion, by Henri Nouwen (thanks to a recommendation by Ali Boyd!), I chose that one. And I LOVED IT. I highly recommend it. But anybody who knows me probably is letting that go in one ear and out the other because I LOVE books a lot and recommend too many too often lol.  However, It’s a book that put words to the desires of my heart.

The book is so full of wisdom, I couldn’t read it too fast and still process the awesomeness. One chapter is called, “Voluntary Displacement” and it follows the chapter on “Community”

I’m here. In Chicago. A city to which I’d never been. But I now live here. For almost one year.

I’m voluntarily displaced. In response to a call of sorts.

In the words of Henri Nouwen,

The paradox of the Christian community is that people are gathered together in voluntary displacement.

Since a big focus of this year with the Amate House is community, I guess the fact that we’re all voluntarily displaced is a good thing 😉

Nouwen talks about how in our voluntary displacement we cast off the illusion of “having it all together” and thus experience our true (and shared) condition.  In our common displacement, following our displaced Lord,

 we are called out of our familiar places to unknown territories, out of our ordinary and proper places to the places where people hurt and where we can experience with them our common human brokenness and our common need for healing.

We’re beginning to experience what this means and will continue to do so over the course of the year. How beautiful. Brokenness transformed.

And of course… Nouwen qualifies his statements a lot (like we all know I do) so I like him even more.   Voluntary displacement is not actually voluntary, but in response to a call. And it often is not physical displacement, but can be inner displacement. And of course, lots of people are involuntarily displaced all the time, so this is not to romanticize displacement but to call us to solidarity with the millions who live disrupted lives.

All this to say… I’m embracing my voluntary displacement and my call to be here in Chicago.

I’m loving getting to know my housemates.

I jumped up and down the first time I saw the Chicago skyline and the Lake Michigan horizon. Well… as much as you can jump while buckled in a car 🙂

Lake Michigan! (from the car)

I’m enjoying the reflections and other exercises that are part of our orientation. The orientation that reminds me of RA training… the Catholic version! Good thing Housing and CCM were my main Furman things 🙂

More soon. On Nouwen. On Chicago. On Amate. On Community.

And one more thing… my address. I love mail. You love mail. Give me yours if you want some mail!

3108 W. 24th Street Chicago, IL 60623