Blog writing is not my cup of tea. I have an English degree, do creative writing as a hobby, and have worked as a content writer for a local newspaper. I can edit blog posts easily. However, I still find myself stuck whenever it is my turn to contribute to the Sycamore House blog. I dislike writing about myself and putting it out into the world. Blogs often are marked by reflective, perhaps even sentimental, writing about what season of life the author is in. I’m a far too private person to be comfortable in this genre yet.
All of this to say that I feel like I should be writing a long, expansive document about my journey this year. The reality is that I’ve been too stressed and too busy to produce an eloquent reflection on my year in the Episcopal Service Corps. So I’ll simply jot down my thoughts here, and that will have to be enough.
Tomorrow is my last day at my service placement, and the service year officially draws to a close next week. We’re running through a series of “last”s in the house: last weekly meeting, last community dinner, last week together, and so on. Luckily, all the Sycamore House members are planning to stick around Harrisburg so we won’t have to say any final goodbyes yet. I’m currently planning on getting an apartment with my housemate Chloe in Harrisburg, so I have that to look forward to. Hopefully, I’ll be able to meet up with Kelsey, Kyle, and Emily as well in the coming year. We could still go to the Broadstreet Market together if we wanted to, which is nice. I think that the fact that all of us plan to stay in Harrisburg goes to show that even in the height of a pandemic, the Sycamore House still succeeded in connecting us to the community around us.
Completing a service year during the height of the pandemic certainly wasn’t easy, but I’m incredibly grateful to have done it. My service placement at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School strengthened my ability to teach, which is helpful as I apply to potential careers in education. I also was reminded of how much I like working with kids. I taught phonemic awareness groups to small groups this year, made book recommendations as a DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) teacher, and helped kids with homework in the afterschool program. I was surprised to realize how much I loved doing all of these things. While working in a school this year was very taxing, I definitely will miss aspects of it.
I also hope that I grew this year personally as well as professionally. I know that before I joined the Sycamore House, my life had ground to a halt due to the pandemic and a series of family emergencies. So many awful things happened (including deaths in my immediate family, family members’ having mental health crises, and breaking my elbow, not to mention the pandemic!) that I wasn’t doing much of anything other than trying to cope. I was very isolated. Almost immediately after arriving here, I found myself talking with another house member about why God allows suffering. I may not have found an answer, but I have come to appreciate God for being with us in hard times. I also have found plenty of joy and laughter this year! My students were hilarious, so I enjoyed working with them at the school. My housemates are great, so I also had many fun moments with them throughout the year. Living in an intentional community forced me out of my comfort zone in the best possible way, and I’m very grateful for it. While the Sycamore House’s community engagement was limited this year, it felt like just the right amount to challenge me (a serious introvert) without being overwhelming. I’m so thankful I got to be a part of the Sycamore House this year.