One thing I have realized about my time with JSC is that I continue to learn from the experiences. Looking back, I can see what a privilege this was for me to be able to choose a year for self-growth and reflection. Something that I believe is unique to JSC is the community of people supporting the program. Hospitality was all around us. I also remember fondly how we were each paired up with a mentor, who was there to care for us and give us respite from the community. I was paired up with the amazing Mary Chase (Bob, too). Like everyone who knew her, I was so sad to hear of her passing. When I remember Mary, I remember that she was someone who embodied love, kindness and generosity, and in a very humble, sometimes self-deprecating, way. We had some good conversations and one thing that stands out to me is that it appeared that her conclusion to handling many conflicts that came her way was to choose to show love and kindness and “see how it goes.” During my year with JSC, I don’t think I was very good at showing love. This is something I’ve grappled with in various contexts since my time in JSC. In my clinical practice, as a licensed marriage and family therapist, I have met people from all walks of life, many have been easy to love and others have been a challenge. Years later, I realized that servant leadership, taught me that when I’m having difficulty loving someone or being kind, it’s time to reflect on what’s going on for me. This loving and showing kindness is not easy and there’s a vulnerability to it. In the end, I only can control myself, and no matter what happens in my interaction with someone else, I want to be able to look back and say “at least I was kind.”
To end with a love story, the last time I visited Chapel Hill was in 2015 for my friend, and fellow JSC alumna’s, wedding. One thing we had in common was that neither of us thought we’d ever get married, I think because we both recognized the vulnerability of love. As it turns out, I caught the bouquet at her wedding, and two months later I met my husband. The lessons touched on in JSC continue to present themselves in my life in ways that now make sense. For this experience, I am incredibly grateful.