Together we sit in a circle silently gazing at photographs strewn across the floor while the afternoon sunlight lazily filters in through the windows lining the opposite side of the room. There is an ease to the air, as if the silence has given permission to the day’s earlier movement, chaos, and conversation to take a momentary rest. And sometimes that is all it takes, a few minutes of quiet in the company of strangers, to remind me that there is time to slow down no matter how monumental or rattling a transition I am welcoming into my life.
In my first month with Johnson Service Corps I have been meditating on the profound intricacies of transition. Perhaps I am reflecting on my first genuine moment of stillness in the company of my fellow corps members because these opportunities feel so rare and precious in the face of these transitory periods. But JSC gives us more than just permission to slow down, it gives us the tools to transform these values into practices.
When I mentioned to a friend from college that my house shares three meals a week together, they commented, “wholesome!” And in many ways they are right — it’s very wholesome. However, I am coming to realize that it is so much more. It is an act of resistance against the business of everyday life, the social atomization and individualization of a society that, at its heart, is happiest when engaging in a beloved community. The time I spend in intentional community with my house allows me to capture and embrace moments of stillness that help me process my transition out of college, my transition into a new community, my transition into servant leadership, and my transition into social justice and the workforce more generally. I am grateful for the grace that allows me to acknowledge that each person processes these transitions differently, and the support that reminds me that each of those experiences is as valid and beautiful as the next.
My first month with Johnson Service Corps also marks my first month working with Partners for Youth Opportunity. In my eyes, PYO is an exceptional organization not only in their tireless efforts to facilitate opportunities for young people in Durham, but because every person at PYO leads and moves through each day with authenticity and honesty. At PYO I feel empowered to make my own informed decisions, supported by the generosity with which staff share their deep wealth of knowledge and experience. One of the “hot words” in the nonprofit sector is burnout, and I realize this is why workplace culture is so essential to the holistic health of an organization and the humans who power it through their intellectual, physical, and heart power. I am humbled to serve youths alongside such genuine people.
Through each of these transitions, I am learning to slow down and take the time to notice — notice the way the sun hits the wood flooring, or the way my housemates have developed a tea time routine, or the way the youths I work with glow after writing a cover letter than affirms their capability and capacity to enter the workforce. Change is inevitable, but this first month has given me the tools to transform my apprehension into appreciation, and I am excited to see what other new experiences this year will bring.