It’s been a tough year, a crazy, wonderful, unbelievably tough year. There is really no way I can sum up this chapter of my life in a way that truly does justice to my lived experiences. In many ways it seems like I’m closing a whole book rather than just a chapter but in other ways it feels like I’ve only written a page in the grand narrative of my life.

One of the ways I think about this past year is in juxtapositions. I have hated as much I’ve loved, died as much as I’ve lived, broken as much as I’ve healed, cried as much as I’ve laughed. But if I think of these experiences as a tree then the hating, dying, brokeness, and crying are the raindrops and soil that are necessary for my roots to dig deeper into the earth. The loving, living, healing, and laughing are the leaves on my branches that are here for a season, fall away for a time, but then grow back with new vigor.

Yet even now, with a week left at my volunteer placement, I am having trouble seeing the growth that comes from the pain. I know that I’ve learned so much doing this work, I know that this work is vital, and I know that I persevered through an incredibly difficult work situation but a lot of days I’m not sure it was worth it. I hope to look back on this experience in a few months or years and feel differently about it but right now, on this day, I don’t.

It’s never easy to close a chapter of life, no matter how strenuous or difficult it was, because there is always a bit of loss involved.

By far the biggest loss will be the amazing communities of Menno House and Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship. I always knew community living was beautiful but I never anticipated how incredible living with ten people could be– a group that large that gets along that well is a once in a lifetime thing. And now I move into a living situation where it is just me and I wonder if I’ve made the right choice. Will I be able to thrive on my own?

After my childhood church fell apart and turned into an ugly place that fostered so much hurt and division, I gave up on church communities. But being a part of MMF has renewed my hope and faith in the church. While I’m still not entirely convinced that the institution that is church can truly be anything other than an institution, I’ve seen the beauty that the church can be in MMF.

Even leaving New York City will be a loss. It took me months to warm up to her but I’m glad I finally did. Yet I look forward to living in Philadelphia, a city I have always loved and longed to live in.

Again, these mere words are not doing even an ounce of justice to a year of lived experiences but I have to express something, somehow. I wish I could find all the right, true, and beautiful words to sum it all up but perhaps I am not meant to. Perhaps I am meant to reflect on what I can, to remember the things that nourish me, to recognize my humanness, and to let the last page of the chapter close where it may.

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