Agape | I Have Changed

This past weekend I was blessed with the opportunity to go on a Rural Immersions trip with my campus ministry to Agape Community in Were, Massachusetts where I lived on a vegan diet and sans social media for three days. It was a time of reflection, prayer, writing (for me, at least), and a whole lot of realization.

The night we arrived we discussed how technology is interfering with our lives. We are on our phones a lot (no, duh!). Technology impedes our own circles as we are in our own little virtual worlds. We become so absorbed in our own little world — not in the selfish sense, but in a world that’s not even our own, as if we’re not paying attention to reality but paying attention to other peoples’ private lives — people we barely know or don’t even know (God forbid). I am so anxious, and I’ll admit I (used to) care about what other people think/do (#sociologymajorproblems) that I am always checking my phone for Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and texts. Self care is important, and part of self care is worrying about yourself and not other people’s personal lives or how they think of you. My dad always tells me, “worry about yourself.” My mom would always tell me to put my phone down. My argument used to be, the typical,

“everyone does it” but mom said,

“no, only people with no life.”

That’s where I made the correlation: we have our own lives, so stop worrying about what other people are doing/thinking.

It was just nice to be sitting by the warm fire in the cozy living room surrounded by great people. Being sans technology never felt so good and relaxing.

But onto what we actually did: we got down in dirty with hauling wood (and taking turns splitting it), turning over compost, and little mini-adventures in the woods.  Some interesting conversations that took place included:

  1. Being a catholic woman on campus
  2. Being liberal at a conservative school
  3. Feminism

After dinner, we gathered in our usual group after a healthy satisfying meal consisting of vegan-naise (vegan mayonnaise, which your girl made) and vegan lasagna. Suzanne gave us a talk about Eco-Feminism. Shortly after the talk, us girls gathered around the dinner table. Suzanne said she was mainly supposed to talk about sustainability, but strongly believed that women should have a role in these issues. That’s when she asked, “is there a women’s group on campus?” to which I responded:

“No, but I am in the process of creating one with the gender studies adviser.”

This was an idea that I’ve had since Columbus Day weekend. So, I plan to call it the “Dorothy Day Women’s Collective,” because Dorothy Day came to Saint Anselm College back in the day, and was unwelcome and referred to as a “Communist.” In fact, newspaper headlines read “Communist comes to Manchester.” But ever since my sophomore year of high school, I’ve considered Dorothy Day to be one of my role models in service.

During this trip, I’ve learned a lot about taking back control. I struggle with high anxiety and depression, but during this trip, I didn’t experience any of it. Maybe in bits and pieces here and there, but not as much as I normally would on a daily basis. Taking back control was a method I had to learn. When we were hiking, I felt like I was in the music video for “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten. Self care, again, is so important I’ve learned, and so is the analogy to love and treat yourself like you would to the Earth. I’ve learned to stop caring so much about what other people are doing, especially on social media. Everything I’ve learned about myself on this trip, I must apply to myself at school. It won’t be easy, but it’s something I have to do.

Somewhere in the midst of the little “speech” I gave, I quoted Robert Frost’s “I-I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” While writing this, and hugging Suzanne, telling me I was so “candid,” I kept going back to my realization that there is so shame in being honest. Being authentic is another important aspect to finding yourself. I didn’t have to put up any fronts or wear any mask(s). This trip has made all the difference, and I cannot wait to apply for an Urban Immersions trip. May agape stay with me throughout the rest of my sophomore year of college, and throughout my college career, and may I be the questions I have about society and the world.

Enjoy these pictures!

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