What does it mean to be fulfilled? To have all the cracks in your life filled with something meaningful? I think I’ve spent a lot of time thinking that fulfillment is something more akin to “life/work balance” that today’s media tell us is so important. This “life/work balance” that companies and advertisements project onto young adults in particular actually has some pretty specific stipulations: you’ve got to have a job that you love and you excel at, lots of friends and lots of fun nights socializing with people, you’ve got to look good all the time and oh yeah, maybe find some time for God and spiritual development in the midst of it all.
But even when I was trying to achieve this prescribed balance, I felt like I was pushing up against walls that my own mindset was building. Even when I’d worked really hard on something that was important to me, even when I was satisfied by my appearance and even when I’d head a full social life, there was still a crack in there that wasn’t being filled.
I’ve had a wonderful life so far, full of amazing opportunities to travel, study, form relationships and enjoy the love of my family. I did spend time journaling, praying or engaging in some other spiritual practice…and yet it felt like I was still pushing up against those same walls.
I’ve kind of taken up yoga recently. I say “kind of” because I haven’t established a routine by any means, but it’s definitely become more of a habit since I have experienced for myself the same positive effects that I have always heard it has on the mind and the body. What is interesting to me, though, is the mysterious disconnect between the actual physical movement and its effects. Yoga has been proven to brighten your mood, reenergize your body and help you sleep better. On a one-dimensional level, you’re just moving your body in ways that seem unremarkable (this coming from a beginner—I’m sure advanced movements are more impressive!) But then, somehow, you feel more relaxed, happier and fulfilled in some way.
In coming to Haiti, I’ve been learning to give of myself more fully to God’s service. I’ve found that I feel more of a sense of purpose and design than I did before. I’ve felt myself breaking through some of those boundaries that I kept coming up against through my work as a teacher, through new experiences and through chances to connect with people leading very different lives from my own.
It’s not easy. I still struggle with relinquishing some of the things I’ve held onto that I’ve been so conditioned to think are going to make me happy. I know that I’ll never have the strength to give up all of those things, but somehow, the cracks are still starting to be filled. On a one-dimensional level, I’m teaching students about definite and indefinite articles in English, I’m going to church with local communities and I’m going to the outdoor markets to buy food, but at the end of the day, I’m feeling filled up in a way that I hadn’t before. I don’t know how it happens, but it seems to me that God’s service has that same mysterious disconnect—you’ve done something that seems simple and unremarkable you’re left with something that fills you up in an indescribable way.
Students working on a group project where they had to write a menu you could find at a restaurant using food vocabulary. They also had to write a script to act out a scene between a server and customers.
Alan and I visited the campus of FSIL (The Faculty of Nursing Science at the Episcopal University of Haiti) in Léogâne where we were hosted by The Rev. Donnel and Janet O'Flynn, Episcopal Volunteers in Mission who I met during YASC orientation. This is a side view of the main class building.
Local artwork for sale hangs on the walls of the FSIL campus's main building
Janet, Donnel, Alan and me
The temporary, open-air building where services at St Croix Church in Léogâne are held. The sanctuary was destroyed in the earthquake in 2010 and the church has a special offering solely for the purpose of rebuilding it.
A short clip taken from the balcony of our house of a marching band processing on the Battle of Vertieres (Kreyòl: Batay Vètyè) Holiday on November 18. The holiday marks one of the most important battles fought for independence from the French during the final stages of the Haitian Revolution in 1803.
A relaxing day off by the pool at the Roi Christophe Hotel, about a 5-minute walk from our house
Doing some conjugations in preparation for the final quarter exam! Fun stuff