it is only fitting of course that I begin my time in new york city listening to the soundtrack of avenue q. sooo here I am!! Hello gramercy park! I apologize for the lack of blogging, for what seems to be almost 3 months, when really potentially it has only been a couple of weeks or so. I don’t even know when the last time was that I blogged! I’m typing this out on my laptop, and due to the lack of wireless connection in the house right now, I am just gonna use my good ol flash drive to help transport this stream of consciousness to my blog online. So there you have it! Get ready!
After the last few days of cabrini orientation, we said bye to all of the sisters, packed the car, and drove over to staten island. It wasn’t that easy. It was hot, it was humid, it was tiring, and it was really sad saying bye…who knows when I will see them again? Since many of them are moving to different facilities in new york, we plan on visiting them before things get crazy with our own ministries and missions. Ok, so we headed to staten island for a week retreat with the good shepherd volunteers – these are the volunteers that work alongside the ministry and mission of the sisters of the good shepherd. YES that is correct! The same order that I did service with in April, when I served at the Euphrasian Residence in manila. I discovered it was a small world, when the sisters in new york, knew some of the sisters I knew from manila. Yay!
So yes, you may be a little confused, so let me break it down for you a little bit. The first two weeks in philly was with the response ability group – the teachers who will be serving in inner city schools under the sisters of the holy child – started by cornelia connelly, and they will be serving in LA, DC, and Philly. Then after these two weeks, I spent the next 4 days just living with the sisters in philly, spending time with them and helping them with their move. This is an assisted living convent, so even just watching the sisters help one another, and watching them eat, was one of the most precious things to watch. The next 3 days of that week were dedicated to Cabrini orientation. This is when the three of us, me, michelle, and mary, learned more about each other, along with our director, Gina, and Sr. Dianne and Sr. Grace. Amazing group of women and every day I was inspired more and more by who they are and I am so excited that these are the people I will be sharing this year (at least) with. We did life journeys, and talked about the joys, the challenges, the different roads we have been on…basically everything that led us to where we are now…Cabrini Mission Corps. When we really took time to dive into the heart of everything that led us to where we are now, it was quite emotional, needless to say…boxes of Kleenex served as our companion, prayer, hugs, and a lot, a lot of support and affirmation in these decisions.
We then ventured off to staten island for a retreat with the good shepherd volunteers. Here, we broke down the 4 tenets of the good shepherd: simplicity, community, ministry, and spirituality. It was important for me to realize that simplicity does not only mean with possessions, and it is not only speaking in the material sense. Moreso, this also means simplicity with my relationship with God…no matter how many statues you have, or I have rather, haha, no matter what the walls in my room look like, simplicity is key…no need to complicate things. It only makes things cluttered. But, lets be honest. If you know me, you know I need that stuff, so therefore, I have some of that stuff with me and I most certainly will be applying them to my walls. J
We did a drum circle at retreat too…it was definitely one of the best things I’ve done, and I am inspired to buy a drum and just play in a park and start a beat. We each took an instrument, someone just started, and we went around and added to it…creating music…some were good, and some beats were unfortunate, but we were all a part of it, and it really allowed us to let loose and reflect on its metaphorical connection to a community. It was absolutely moving and beautiful at the same time.
Community – I am living with mary and michelle, and 5 other older sisters. Mary is from Milwaukee, WI, and her and I share a bathroom between us. She’s half Chinese and half Polish and has this deep passion for Latin America and salsa – the dancing that is! J Michelle is from St. Louis, MO, and she lives upstairs. She’s Filipino and Chinese and is in her 2nd year of being a missioner with the Cabrini Mission Corps. Then we have the other sisters that I live with – they are all older, and they are a special group. We eat together, we will be having community prayer nights, and with this, it is important to also mention and break down any assumptions you may have on what this community may look like. Like in any group of people from different backgrounds and experiences, there will be disagreements, and some days will be easier or more challenging than others, but all in all, with the intention to support, encourage, and allow each other to grow, love and peace will be our guide. Just remember, sisters are people too…I had to remind myself of this…considering all I have been picturing and envisioning is an experience straight outta sister act. Don’t get me wrong..I love that, BUT! That is also Hollywood. Haha!
The Cabrini charism is one of deep spirituality and that is what has drawn me to this community. After having the amazing and blessed opportunity to spend time with the sisters of the holy child and the sisters of the good shepherd, the spirituality of the Cabrini charism is what really drew me in and ultimately brought me here. One of the first rules in the Cabrini mission, is the bringing in of young adults to help in the mission, so here I am. Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – was the motto of Mother Cabrini, and one that I am trying to cling on to in times of distress.
Haha, ok, so here we go…so I’m here. I’m sitting on my bed and it has a nice bedspread with blue flowers, and some ribbon of blue, yellow, and green. Mr. Brown Eyes is sitting right next to me, and of course my phone is to my left. The door is to the left of me, I have a sink and a medicine cabinet, I have a closet about one and a half feet long, I have a big dresser and on it lies a pic of my mom, me, and my grandparents, santo nino, another one, the good shepherd, a picture of our lady of medjugorje, a glow in the dark crucifix, and other getting ready stuff. Then I have a chair, then a desk. When I first walked into my room, I was pretty much speechless. It was like, I have been counting down till the 22nd, cause that was the magical day when I would finally be in my place in gramercy park…yeah…it wasn’t really magical. It was more surreal. I put my things in my room, and I just sat on my bed and looked around. There’s a crucifix over the door, one on the wall, an icon of another religious figure, mary in the corner, and a quote on the wall from mother cabrini – “ if you have not yet seen miracles, it is because you possess little faith.” I still have stuff all over the place, and of course I still have yet to have been here for 24 hours…I’m starting to feel the transitioning that is beginning to take place inside of me. I didn’t really think it would be a feeling like this, one that I can not even explain and unfortunately can not articulate, but it is one of just like, wow. I’m here. Nothing super good, nothing super bad, just wow. I think that’s part of it though..to just be, and accept where I am, and yet, I am still 200% sure that this is where God wants me to be. And THAT itself should provide me with peace…I just gotta get there. J
The air conditioning is on, and I tried conserving energy by turning it off…so I did. And then I walked back in, and my room was stuffy. Soooo naturally, I got over it and turned it back on…and so I am happy J
The past month has been a whirlwind of emotions, and I remember telling my director about how hard it was to be present because I was so exhausted from two weeks of training then a week of more training then another week of retreat…it was very much like, please stop me from having to live out of a suitcase! I was like, Gina, it’s really hard to be present…I just wanna get there. And she so graciously reminded me that my mission has already started, and me just getting out here, and even before that…in my mission to commit to this, my mission had already begun. This is all part of the process, and all in the plan and preparation prior to me being that awesome health teacher and inspiring campus minister that I want to be. J
Just as I have a mission, I am reminded that God has a mission in me, and in us. It is such a beautiful thing and I am so blessed to have experienced 4 weeks with about 40 other young adults who have felt a calling to serve with their lives for a year or so, or even beyond…it is an amazing thing to see passion, and see it played out in the lives of the friends I have made. I never thought I would have a friend from Tennessee, I never thought I would have made great friends who live in Philly, and I never thought I would ever live in New York…with sisters. I’m here, and it feels so good, so so so so good, but I just gotta remind myself that it is ok to struggle and also, that all I gotta do, is be myself…because that’s all God expects of me, and that is all that I have to offer. There’s no need to have a mentality to have to make big changes, or create any elabroate movement…rather, the giving of myself will be moving enough…God is already here, He has been here…in the high school, on 21st street, in laguna niguel, in philly…everywhere. And that. That is a great, great thing. Life is good…and I am blessed.