As most of you recall, in November 2012 I became an Associate of the Sister's of Mercy. I spent a great deal of time writing about it, and explaining my desire to make that commitment. Mercy continues to be a part of my life, and throughout the last few years I have spent time at different Mercy events, supporting the Mercy Volunteer Corps and Mercy High School.
However, in the last year I would say my participation was down. There are many things I attribute to my absence. First, my weight loss journey. When I decided it was time to become healthy, I knew that I had to make it my number one priority. That's just the way it had to be for this to work. As a result, I lost a few friends along the way, and broke some previous commitments. Some may say that is selfish, but it was something that had to be done. And something that needs to continue. I am not finished yet. I still have a ways to go on my journey.
Secondly was my dad's diagnosis. That happened in September of last year and although he has been okay, I did take a step back from many of my obligations so that I could spend more time with my family. I realized over the last year just how important family is, and I truly made it a point to put them at the top of my list.
Third was the transition between jobs. At my old job I was often sick, and sad, and did not feel much up to doing anything. My new job has been fantastic, but still an adjustment. I work a lot of nights and some weekends, so figuring out my new job and role have been a big part of my life.
Fourth is having a boyfriend. While that may seem silly, Tom is one of the most important people in my life and as our relationship grows, I want to spend more time with him and to have our time together.
The fifth reason is one I have only recently admitted to myself, and that is the loss of Sr. Mary Jo. She was my mentor, my friend, and my role model. Her actions and words alone are a huge reason why I became an associate in the first place. When she passed, it was almost as if a little part of my passion for Mercy passed with her. You'd think it would have fueled me, but instead I took a little step back. I missed her so much, and to know that I was not going to see her at events made me very sad.
I tell you all of those things merely to explain why I maybe have not been as active with Mercy as I thought I would be when I became an associate. Perhaps they are just excuses, but I felt like I had to put them out there- maybe more for myself.
Anyways, this last weekend, I attended the annual Associate Retreat. I almost did not go. Since I had been absent so much, I almost felt like I shouldn't go- like I was not one of the "regulars" and that I wouldn't fit in. But, several had made the personal invitation, and I went for it. I am not sure what I was expecting- perhaps your typical spiritual retreat. But what I got was so much more than that. Over the weekend we spent our time discussing leadership. Specifically, leadership in Mercy. This was perfect, as it is something I personally have not thought much about, and had we not had this retreat I probably still would not be thinking about it. But having an entire weekend focusing on that allowed me to feel that passion for Mercy all over again. My mind was going a mile a minute with ideas I wanted to share, stories to tell, people to talk with. I am usually very quiet on retreats, as someone who is shy and nervous. But this time, I felt like I had so much to say that I was jumping in quite a bit. I was so energized by the openness of the other associates and the Sisters who joined us that I was bouncing off the wall.
I needed this weekend, mentally. I needed to step away from those five things that I mentioned up above and just to bring myself back to Mercy. After all, Mercy is what formed me. Mercy is in everything that I do. I forget that, sometimes, but I know that the very core of who I am as a person was built through my experiences at Mercy High School and as a Mercy Volunteer Corps member.
So where do I go from here? Now that I have had this fantastic retreat and energized my love for all things Mercy, how do I live it? I've got a couple of ideas. I have suggestions to forward on to the leadership team. I have ways to show my support of the Sisters- I plan on visiting the elderly Sisters twice a month. I have plans to invite fellow Associates over for a potluck. There are ways. Now I just need to do them. I can't go crazy. I can't be attending workshops and parties and conferences every week. But I can live Mercy in all that I do...and invite others to join me.