March 23, 2010

Wandering the Woods of West Virginia

I'm writing this from "the woods" of West Virginia, somewhere near Harpers Ferry/Charlestown; For Love of Children Outdoor Education Center, to be exact. The internet is slow and I have no cell reception so to those who may be reading whom I haven't contacted in ages: I'm sorry! I love you all dearly and will be in contact asap! (really, I will!)

Friends, Family, whoever is reading,
I LOVE IT HERE! I love the forest. I love the work. I love the air. I love the trails. I love the mountains and hills. I love my team. I love how God speaks little tid-bits here and there that bring me such a zest and fervor for LIFE!
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings start out with PT at 6am in the "Miller House", a cold, dirty garage-type building with just enough space for the eleven of us. I'd say 8 out of 11 of us aren't at all happy to be there (and make it quite clear, I might add), but being lean machines comes with the "A" territory, so we push through the gazillion push-ups, throw our fists in the air, shout the word of the day, and amble back up the hill to The Lodge where we inhale gobs of cereal and coffee before starting the work day...
8am we meet our sponsors outside.. and ooo how do I begin to describe them! Picture a 100 lb 50 year old man with missing teeth and A.D.D. accompanied by a younger, sturdier looking version of himself, both complete with hyenna laughs and never-ending UN-PC comments. HOWEVER on their behalf, they love nature, love life, and really do care about people. They seem to think we're a bunch of creepers, which actually has become our team thing. Yeah, we're the Raven 5 Creepers. Team Creep. A couple hours with us and you'd know exactly what I mean. "Every color crayon in the crayola box" is how our Team Leader likes to describe us. Which means there's never an end to the laughs, the random comments, the unnanounced bulldozing (yes, that's right. bulldozing. If you're laying down, you're fair game to be rolled over. and over. and over. by however many people find you.), the spontaneous bursts of energy, and the need to modify the Team Charter. Silence is rare and sacred.
We've done tons of team-builders (good ones, not the silly ice-breaker crap that drives me nuts) since we've been here and have realized some pretty siginificant things, one of which is that we have a lot of work to do in the area of communication.

45 minute hike in at 8am to where we left off on the trail the previous day. Cut, clear, rake, nip and BLAZE trails!! My back aches, my legs are tired, my face is wind-burnt, and I'm in the woods. For me, there is no better job. I love this. I just love this!

We spent last weekend in a massive tree house. I hadn't slept so good since starting Americorps. Something about the air, the birds, the campfire, the open space. I still have this need to feel free. It's not as intense as it was prior to Callin' It Life, but it's still there. Sometimes all it takes now is an incredible long run or a morning sitting alone on a grassy hill, or, as I've now discovered, hiking out to spend a weekend in a tree house a mile from an outlet or running water.

My team loves my granola. So I should probably go make some :)

March 13, 2010

The Nitty Gritty

(warning: this post has to be short so it leaves out a lot... i'll try my best to post more soon but no guarantees!)

I'm so tired right now I sort of feel like I could faint. Sometimes I feel like the only one here who has a thousand things on my mind. My teammate heather keeps saying, "live for today, you just gotta live for today"...

I'm not entirely sure I believe in that. Maybe I do, but perhaps I don't..

Because my today is not all there is in the world. What I experience today isn't going to have anything to do with what the people I love who are sprinkled all over the world are experiencing today. And it's those people sprinkled across the globe that are on my heart and mind all day every day. It's the fact that there's an entire world out there.

It's the fact that the Holy Spirit will not let me go, and I don't want Him to.

Life is not flat for me. It's not dull. It's not mundane. It's not the day-to-day. It's not on one level. I see a homeless man and my heart aches, my spirit groans, my hands reach for my peanut butter sandwich, I see the globe as it spins and turns and frustrates itself into believing this is all okay. I wring my hands, I hand him my sandwich, I see myself in his eyes, and as I walk away I wrestle with the desire to do something, anything; I believe for a second that if I could feed this one man I might be able to feed them all. And if I could feed them all I could bring them hope, life.. I could change their worlds and then they could change more worlds and pretty soon the entire world would be singing this song of deliverance and hope, assured that love is more than a word and life more than an experience.

There are days when I would give anything to be in the Spirit and days when I know I won't be satisfied until I'm sitting in red dirt with an African child stroking my soft brown hair. There are days when the thought of 9 months here literally makes me panic. Fear rises in my throat and I can't swallow much less allow myself to engage in any conversation, lecture, project. Though I've always been a wanderer, a dreamer, I find myself zoning into other worlds more than ever before. I can't settle with all this stuff inside me. I wonder why I'm here sometimes. I know where I want to be, I know what I want to be doing. But I can't do it right now. And so I'm here, hoping to be proactive while getting out of debt.

There are moments when I know I need to be here. Part of me knows the structure is good for me. I'm going to be able to interact with and work for tons and tons of non-profits throught the next 1700 hours of service and really, who knows what might come of some of that..

for now I am tired. and my spirit groans as it waits for all these things to come together. one day they will. right now i have to believe this is preparing me. someway, somehow.
I just wasn't expecting it to be such a challenge.

oh, deep spirit...

*a year ago now ghana was wrecking me in that beautiful, profound way..*

35 to go!


An obnoxious sound rings in my ear. I swear I open my eyes, but I see nothing. A few seconds later I feel the pain in my lower back as my mattress sags towards the ground and I remember, oh yes! I am in a psych ward! There are bars on my windows! My bedroom door does not lock! If I walk down the hall I will be met by 86 other unique individuals who have no idea what to do with their lives! Together we will walk to the VA gymnasium where we'll yell loud noises as we get into military formation to do side-straddle-hops and more push-ups than I've ever done. to date.

PT over, I grab my hoodie and hit the pavement for a sunrise run around "the point". I'll be the only one there - just me, the sun, the chesapeake bay, the birds, and the stray cats. It's still. It's quiet. And I'm alone. *sigh*
Team meeting to discuss the day's projects, goals, etc.
Work work work! Could be a project briefing. Or perhaps service in Baltimore with, for example, The Moveable Feast, a non-profit providing meals and human-interaction for hundreds of AIDS victims throughout Maryland who can't leave there homes as well as a number of homeless individuals. OR perhaps we'll clean the Brandywine Zoo in Delaware! Or drag brush and clear trails in any number of state parks throughout the area. Or maybe today we'll have random drug tests! Or learn how to use power tools! Or how to set up and tear down a disaster shelter? Why not?
Return to the psych ward to cook dinner in our team kitchen with the $200 of food we have for the eleven of us for the week. If I'm not on to cook, this is more run time!
DINNER! Depending on who cooked this can be a wonderful time or a learning experience. ;)
Clean the ward.
Team Meeting in the laundry room.

It's the life, people. It's the life.
haha okay really, it's not so bad. pretty cool, actually. I have a team of 11 people (including me). For the next 9 months these people are my family. I'm not ready to explain them yet except to say that we're special. Really, really special. *ahem* but really, we just might be the most diverse, unique group of all the 21 teams that make up Class 16. From California to NY, downtown chicago to boonies ohio, black to white, musicians to jocks, gay to straight, christian to atheist, 18 to 24... we're diverse. all entirely different. but whether we liked each other on the first day or not, we're in this together. our mission for the next 9 months is to "get things done for America", which means the differences can't matter. They can't be anything. As much as we're going to gain and grow in the coming months, they're not for us.

Tomorrow we leave for our first of four major projects for the year. We'll be in Harpers Ferry, WV working with a group called For Love of Children that aims to take kids out of inner-city DC that they might be able to experience nature and discover themselves outside city life. We're going to build composting toilets, clear 12 miles of trails, paint buildings, build benches, and a bunch of "behind the scenes" conservation/environmental work...

Let's see, what else that might be of interest.
I passed my drug test! ;)
One of our four major projects will most likely be in New Orleans, or somewhere along the gulf doing relief work.
I did my first presentation since college last week. Before every major project we have to do extensive research and present to a board, including the Director of the NCCC Atlantic Region. Never imagined I'd spend countless hours doing research in a library for a deadline ever again but, alas, it has happened and will be happening again.

I will be writing a more emotional entry to follow this one. don't worry, i haven't changed that much. :D

*I Paint The World* Copyright © 2008 Black Brown Art Template by Ipiet's Blogger Template