December Already?!

(Posted December 6, 2010)

(Disclaimer: This post will be stream-of-consciousness and there will be no chronology whatsoever. Also, I wrote it yesterday but Tumblr would not allow me to post it.  Probably because there was too much awesomeness in one post. Enjoy!)

So as I sit in my usual Hillsboro coffee shop and borrow their wifi wonderfulness (usually without purchasing a drink, but its okay because the baristas like me) I reflect on the homily I heard this morning at St. Matthew parish by Father Ron Raab of the Portland Downtown Chapel.  Fr. Raab, a Holy Cross priest, is visiting St. Matthew’s to lead their Advent mission, using his book The Unsheltered Heart, an at home advent retreat.  In his homily this morning, Fr. Raab challenged us all to examine our hearts in this time of preparation to see what is in need of healing and love in our lives.  Its very easy to get wrapped up in the consumerism of the Christmas season but as I’ve come to spend holidays and months on end away from the family and friends I grew up with, I’ve realized the support and love that travel with me across the miles.  I hope to spend the next few weeks leading up to Christmas really examining the relationships I have with housemates, family, friends and ultimately, myself.  What mantras or ideas do I carry with me everyday to be the truest and best form of myself?  How have my experiences and interactions with others changed the way I view the world, for better or worse?

Christie led a spirituality night this past week in the coziness of our living room, now adorned with our (locally grown!) Christmas tree, in which we were challenged to determine what we try to live out everyday, whether it be a simple phrase or a religious ideal.  It provoked some good thoughts and conversation and it is something I hope to consciously consider each day during the Advent season and beyond..

Thanksgiving came and went, as did my apple pie!  It was quite a hit at the HomePlate potluck, as were Elena’s turkey hats we made with the kids.  Turkey parades ensued around the table for the rest of the evening.  We ventured into Portland after dinner and stayed at the JV Mac house overnight to head to the holiday parade and tree lighting the next day to get in the holiday spirit.  (See fantastic photos in previous posts.)  Saturday was another evening of fun spent with my co-worker Meghan and her friend Rachel; we had delicious stirfry and holiday drinks and sang the night away with Lady Gaga rock band.  Quite a swanky way to spend a Saturday evening for a JV!!  We headed to feed horses Sunday morning at Forward Stride, a nonprofit that Meghan volunteers with for people with physical and mental disabilities to be able to ride horses as a part of their therapy.  Though it was early, we had a great time being in the quiet barn passing out grain to the horses; we were very popular ladies, especially when we handed out apples.  Sunday continued with a trip to a Portland craft bazaar with wonderful handmade things like jewelry, stationery, clothing and anything else you can imagine.. it made me very envious of people brimming with creativity and who own a sewing machine!

Green Team was busy this week and we made great progress with our schools and plantings.  Deer Park is taking a two-month break so this past Tuesday was the last time I’ll see many of the students as they are transitioning to college (!!!) and back to their home schools.  Deer Park is a group I have really come to love as I have worked with them every week since September and they are the smallest group of students I work with, so this allowed me to get to know them pretty well.  I’ll miss them and their witty little remarks but I’m so happy they are all moving on and am looking forward to meeting new students in February.  Some of the students read reflections on their SOLV experience and their remarks were very touching and it made me feel fantastic that they really got something out of the time we all spent together in community.  Also worked with Mountain View Middle School this week at a planting; they rocked it and got nearly 100 plants in the ground in a little over an hour!

This weekend was another fantastic one as I worked with Help-Portrait, a global event started last year where photographers all around the world organize a one day event in their city and take portraits of people who might not otherwise have access to photography.  I volunteered yesterday with a Portland group and we served 179 people, taking a total of 54 family portraits.  The photographers and organizers were amazing to work with and we had a great time meeting families from all over the Portland area.  Families received a CD of the all the photos taken of them as well as a 5×7 print of their choosing.. hoping to post a video/slideshow soon of candids taken by people over the course of the day!  Can’t wait til next year!  See photos from around the world on Help Portraits Flickr account…

Had a great night at St. Matthew’s last night (Sunday) with Youth Ministry as we were back after a Thanksgiving hiatus.  Really enjoying getting to know the kids and the young adults that help out.  We did some great Advent reflection and played some dangerous games involving tennis balls and Christmas carols.

Planted over 200 trees today (Monday) with Clackamas High School.. photos and video up soon on the SOLV blog.  The sun was shining and everyone was in great spirits so it was a really great way to start the week.  Students also removed a huge amount of obnoxious blackberry roots and went on a nature walk to the confluence of the Clackamas River and Rock Creek.  Hoping for more sunshiny days and can’t believe there’s just 17 days until I’m back on the East Coast for Christmas!



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