End of the Year Reflection | Emptiness Brings Fullness
To say that I have learned a lot about myself these past ten months is both to recite a familiar cliché and to entirely understate how significant this time has been—yet I don’t know how else to begin describing my experience as a member of this program than with that statement, however flawed it may be.
I came to Saint Hilda’s House hoping to clarify my career goals and my plans for graduate school. I imagined that my time working in a non-profit would affirm that sector as my path. I imagined that my fellow housemates and I would support each other collegially but with a good deal of independence from each other. I imagined that I would be energized—or, at least, as energized as I have ever been—and that the most important and sustaining relationship I built over the course of the year would be the one I had with myself.
Instead, I leave this program with a different plan: headed away from non-profit work, back towards academia. My housemates and I supported each other more like a strange, haphazard collection of dear friends who became something of a family than like anything else. I was thoroughly exhausted by every part of this program. Amidst that, I developed strong, sustaining relationships with each of my six housemates and others—New Haven students, residents, coworkers—that helped carry me through that exhaustion with more grace and patience than I’ve ever practiced before. And more subtly, but no less importantly, I grew in faith in ways that I never really imagined for myself; for what feels like the first time in my life, I can say with sincerity that I have a relationship with God.
I was listening to the song “Hand Me Downs” by the Indigo Girls as I wrote this, and the refrain felt particularly apt:
Give me hope, give me hope
That emptiness brings fullness
That loss of love brings wholeness to us all.
This year emptied me out. There was love lost beforehand and along the way. Yet I have discovered a fullness and a wholeness in this place and with these people—and new kinds of love—that I don’t think I could have come by through any other means. I am so very grateful for that, and for the gift of the knowledge that I can carry and find this love, this fullness and wholeness, beyond this program and wherever life takes me next.
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