Mountain stands solid
among other mountains
protected by the hills.
Mountain remains true
through each season.
Only the surface changes.
My volunteer house and Camp AJ are snugly situated between our little hills out here in Jackson County. I have watched the mountain-like hills change as the seasons creep by. The trees all had leaves and the grass was the greenest green when I arrived. Then the leaves all turned orange, yellow, red, and brown and they began falling. Then it began snowing and then icing and we stopped having school on a regular basis. Now we are alternating 70 degree weather with blizzards. This latest development has us all reeling a little. Hiking wearing shorts in the snow is not the most bizarre event to happen this late-winter/early-spring. But we need not get into that in this post...
I have been here for a little while now. Long enough to go on autopilot while traveling and to lose track of where I am and where I have been. There were very specific reasons that I wanted to work in non-profit after graduating college. I wanted to do Justice as we are all called in Micah 6:8. I wanted to be a community organizer. And if I could not do that, I wanted to go out into the world and develop relationships with people; especially people who were living in poverty. I looked at a couple different volunteer programs, but CAP seemed like home. Well, it is home. I have lived in Kentucky my whole life and I did not see any reason to leave my old Kentucky home just yet. So I came out to the mountains with all these ideas about justice and charity.
I had a few ideas about what would happen to me out here. I wanted to meet people, so that I could know them. I wanted to meet people, so that I could be a real writer with real things to communicate. I wanted to meet people, so that I would know things about the world and be able to do something about less than perfect situations in the world.
I did not know that I would come here and meet the nicest people in this world. I did not know that I would come here and discover Jackson County love or CAP love. This love is a completely different animal from any kind of love I have encountered, but with the same name. This love is the way to live. I did not know that I would come here and start questioning every “truth” about myself. It has been a rewarding, but sometimes uncomfortable, process and it is not over. Still, I am beyond blessed to be here with this opportunity. All I can do is pray and ask for guidance.
“I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.” ~Thomas Merton’s Prayer
The mountains around me go through their seasons and the surface changes, but the rock of the mountain is mostly unchanged. I am going through the seasons of my first year of service and I am trying to figure out what is my changing surface of personhood and what is my bed-rock true self. The road to the true self is not easy to find. It is hidden by self-doubts and obscured by other influences. I am discovering that finding the way is a lifetime process rather than something that I started uncovering in college and can completely excavate during this year of service. All I can do is pray and take it day by day.
Anna P. is a long-term CAP Volunteer serving as an AmeriCorps Camp Educator/Summer Camp Counselor at Camp Andrew Jackson. She is a member of the Jackson Volunteer Community and is a graduate of Bellarmine University.