Making St. Joseph Worker Memories
Recently the newest group of St. Joseph Workers was asked: What has been the most memorable experience in your first month as an SJW?
“One of the most memorable experiences from this month happened just this past weekend, when the majority of the house went on our first camping trip up north! We hiked around Jay Cooke State Park discussing books, movies, and personal experiences. After setting up camp, we walked immediately over to a nearby lake. We swam, laughed and played music as the sun started to drop, and then we headed back to the campsite to make dinner over the fireplace. We ate warm soup and chatted as the stars began to show their faces, then we walked to the dock in silence and sat under the cloudy night sky. It struck me just how special it is to be able to both play, laugh, and talk endlessly while also knowing how to hold each other in silence (and after knowing one another for only a month!) I am SO grateful for this community and the ways I can already feel God moving through our house and this wonderful group of women.
Generally, I think I found so much comfort in the community around us and how welcoming the people and places have come to feel to me. Going off of that idea, my most memorable experience so far was getting lost (both physically and in conversation ) in the neighborhoods with Karina early on during orientation. In nurturing our comfort in each other and the new place we are learning to call home, we completely wandered off the grind, without phones, and had no clue how we were going to return to the house in time for the next orientation activity. Just as we settled in the status of our deep lost-ness, we somehow stumbled upon The Lift Garage on East Lake St., my placement site and where I now spend my work days. Even before I began working there, the Garage and those I work with provided me comfort and proved to be a sign that “home” was near. Just as Karina and I began to ask for help from my now co-workers outside the shop, the SJW program Malibu rolled in (truly miraculous, they were just driving by the shop to the next activity), and we heard familiar voices of those who were no longer strangers, but our home. Our new family. I cannot thoroughly describe the comfort that washed over me, but as Karina and I cheered and shared our first hug, I truly felt God.
My most memorable experience so far has been visiting the chapel room at Wellsprings Farm on our retreat. On our first night there while we were settling in and exploring the farm, a few of us sat in the chapel room to pour over its various books, items, and art. I picked up the prayer book and read through some guests’ entries from the last several years. The raw emotion they conveyed despite the authors’ anonymity was so powerful and moved me to tears. It was a unique sense of connection and hope that I will remember forever.
For me, the most memorable experience in my first month as a SJW would be walking the labyrinth at the retreat center (Wellsprings Farm). We walked it as the sun was going down and the light reflecting off the tall prairie grasses set a beautiful and peaceful scenery. The tall grasses closed out the world and surrounded the path solely with wildlife. We had learned bout labyrinths previously in the week and it was enjoyable to walk a long labyrinth in this beautiful setting.
One of my favorite memories so far was our retreat to Wellsprings Farm. The crisp morning air, the song of rustling leaves, distant thunder, and chirping birds, the golden glow of the grassy meadow, the silent cool nights… they were all a balm to my soul. I enjoyed basking in the natural splendor with the wonderful women of the St. Joseph Worker community. I left feeling a bit spiritually naked, yet all the more connected to everyone because of it.
My favorite memory is the first grocery run we did as a house. The co-op was allowing reusable containers in the bulk section for the first time since COVID started, so we showed up with boxes of random jars to fill with pantry staples.