This August, one of our community members was married and half of our community was able to make the trip to celebrate her nuptials. (Side note: They say weddings bring people together and I think MercyWorkers through the years have truly taken that to heart. Obviously we’re always down to party, but it really provides a focal point for us to rally around and buy plane tickets.) We spent the weekend catching up, some of us seeing each other for the first time since we left the MW Apartment, and also spent a good deal of time reminiscing and thinking of our community who wasn’t able to make it.
Eight years ago, and some change, the MercyWorkers of 2008-2009 gathered in the MW apartment for the first time. Nervous and excited; anticipation wafting through the air. What had we signed up for? What was this year going to hold for us as individuals and community? Looking back over that magical and exhausting year, plus the follow-up years of employment at Mercy Home, I’m able to see the length and breadth of the ways in which my life was irrevocably affected. Of course, I couldn’t do this on my own. It was in the waning hours of the weekend that a list was compiled of things we’d started to learn in during our year, which have truly grown in the space and time between.
Bonds Continue. We pick up where we left off, though we don’t (always) act 22 anymore, the relationships we have, have grown with us. Holding each other accountable in conversations, encouraging one another in challenging situations and pushing buttons. It’s what we did then and how we do it now. One of my roommates remarked that “conversations are immediately deeper with each other as compared to other friends”. We take it to that level because we spent much of a year there, knowing that we’re safe in the “loving challenges.” To the community members we don’t get to see much, or at all, we still miss you and wish you nothing but the best of blessings in life.
Memories Extend Beyond Our Community. Like our year, much of it was spent with our homes, staff, and youth. Much of our experience and memories are from program. When we gather, we’re gathering these memories with us. Sharing bits of news about who’s graduated, who left Mercy, who’s been promoted, and youth antics. We can look back on a particularly trying youth and still, or maybe even more so, wish them all the love and luck as they grow up, where ever they may be.
“Looking back over that magical and exhausting year, plus the follow-up years of employment at Mercy Home, I’m able to see the length and breadth of the ways in which my life was irrevocably affected.”
Intergenerational MW Love. If you stayed on at Mercy after your year, you have a great extended MW community to welcome you. You no longer return to a weekly community night, but try to carve out those interactions by scheduling lunches, playing on sports leagues, going to church, as well as events and gathering for drinks together. My time post MW was blessed with awesome co-workers/MercyWorkers who, while didn’t know me as well as my community, weren’t ones to shy away from checking-in on a rough day, or digging in just a little bit deeper into conversations and extending invites. For those of us that didn’t stay on at Mercy, you’ve been hosting the MW Coordinators as they make their way around to campuses, networking with each other, assisting in career/grad school conversations and coming back to visit. Whatever part you’ve played in this larger community, thanks for both giving and receiving. Maybe we learned that one from the countless hand holding (thumbs to the right: one hand to support and one to be supported)?
Seeds Were Planted. The 5 core values are alive and well in all of us; granted, in different places. But those seeds of simple living and spirituality, even if we didn’t want them at the time, were buried somewhere inside. Over the years since our community left the apartment, we’ve been able to (excuse the cheesy metaphor) water our own seeds, and each other’s. Sharing kombucha babies, or asking for help editing papers. We’ve been nurturing these ideas planted by phone, letter, visits, emails and hope. We’ve all been changed. Our gardens have more flowers, and a diversity of the kinds, than we’d dreamed possible before this year. (Alright, an even worse metaphor. At any rate, I’m sure you all see the point I’m trying to make.)
As we are all well aware, community is what we make it. Not just in our year, but after it, too. How you connect after your year is what carries your community, our MW community forward. Thanks for making MW bigger than just our individual years and communities.
And for my ’08-’09 MercyWorkers: “WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO?!…..WHO ARE WE GONNA DO IT FOR?!”