Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dear 2010,

(This may be a bit belated, but I think it may still be worth while to post.)

     You were an extraordinarily eventful year, one from which I learned and grew more than I ever realized was possible.  You filled my plate constantly, 2010, with opportunities for leadership, service, travel, and love.  You started off not with a whimper, but with a bang in Chicago with the wonderful Sam Smith and Leo and Mary Gameng.  Mary and I made a list of resolutions for you, my dear 2010, that I don't think either of us entirely kept.
     Then, despite the wearying work that came in January and February, you afforded me the beautiful opportunity to help lead a community in reigniting their passion for prayer on the Get in the Game retreat, a retreat that I reluctantly agreed to direct and in which I subsequently invested my whole heart.  My team members, Rich, Elise, Rochelle, Gabby, and Matt, and their dedication and tireless work were etched on my heart.
     March and April brought about the last InnerStrength Gospel Choir concert and the final production of Everyman, two performances drenched in very different memories.  With these shows, 2010, you brought me into contact with some of the hardest-working and fastest-trusting people I have ever known.  You taught me a deeper appreciation of the value in perseverance, trust, and honesty with each rehearsal.
     2010, in May you drew a four-year odyssey at Boston University to a close.  I said "so long," but not "goodbye" I hope, to many professors and to many friends.  You saw me bind and present my senior thesis, the culmination of years of the study of religion and literature.  I finished work at Orientation amid roars of laughter and counted the many blessings my coworkers had been to me.  And, in May, you brought a truly terrific group of friends to Montreal for a few celebratory days that I don't think any of us will soon forget.
     In June and July you allowed me to stay in Boston to spend time with some wonderful people who stood with me, sat with me, cried with me, and mostly laughed with me as I struggled through numerous sets of life-plans.  As it turns out, my best friend for the summer, the irrepressible Jonny Snow, became a best friend for... well, more than the summer.  Just can't seem to get rid of him (lucky me).  I spent our nation's birthday in historical Philadelphia and reconnected with other best friends, Genna, Emily, and Jason.  You brought me also to Walden Pond twice, with Sam and Erin, there to "live deliberately" and read my dear friends Whitman and Thoreau.  Summer 2010, you were a lesson in simplicity and joy.
     You filled my heart with hope in August, 2010, though you probably laughed when you saw me scream as I got a tattoo.  You told me that my future road lay in Los Angeles, and I prepared to say "so long" to my beloved Boston, the city I had called home for four years.  In August, you also brought me to my heart-home in Pittsburgh to celebrate with Kelly and Ryan as they said their marriage vows, and allowed me to travel to a farm in the mountains of West Virginia to visit an old friend and meet many new ones.  And then, 2010, you saw me pack my life in a few cardboard boxes and fly 3,000 miles into the golden American West to begin a new adventure.
     2010, in September you provided me with work and with a community that has definitely been "getting things done for America."  You saw me learn that I could teach as you threw me headfirst into a gang-ridden Los Angeles school.  You also saw me learn fitfully to drive a stick shift on the LA freeways.  And, 2010, you opened my heart in a new way to ecumenism by allowing me to live at St. Stephen's with three beautiful new sisters, Lucy, Allison, and Megan.
     In October, 2010, you brought me to San Jose to celebrate the wedding of my dear friends, Floyd and Rochelle.  You also blessed me immensely, 2010, by bringing my Sister Olga to Los Angeles.  You continued to teach me about steadfast dedication, since our school year is a marathon and not a sprint, and you watched me run my first 5K in seven years at the end of October, 2010.
     November brought me to Joshua Tree National Park for a weekend of hiking, climbing, running, and camping under the desert stars, and home to Boston to visit many wonderful friends.  You smiled on me and sent me to Santa Barbara for a community retreat on my birthday, 2010, where I learned a new way of looking at my faith and discovered a new reason for my year of service.  Then you afforded me the opportunity to give thanks with a bunch of hippies at Slab City, and Amy Donnelly of course, for health, for friends, and for life.  You brought Colleen to LA at the end of November, and reminded me to take a chill pill and frolic at the beach every once in a while.
     And then, 2010, in your old age, you continued to teach me about community and the value of simple conversation.  December saw me have several thousand "Catholic moments" throughout my favorite season of the year, Advent.  We lit our candles and prayed together, and knitted together, and cooked together, and laughed together, and the heart of our community grew several sizes that way.  You watched me adventure another 2,000 miles west to Hawaii with my dear friend Shelysa to spend Christmas with a wonderful adoptive family.  And finally, in your last days, 2010, you again brought me to my beloved Pittsburgh to reconnect with family and old friends, to reminisce about where life has brought us thus far, and to look forward with great hope to the adventures that lie ahead.
     2011, you have some big shoes to fill, but I think you are up for the task.
          With a grateful heart,

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