There was plenty of fun had during the week outside of the normal program. There was a night we spent around the fire singing Taylor Swift’s entire song catalog and playing Make a Song, where much hilarity ensued. They also taught us the infinitely fun game of Scum and we had a marathon, two tier session on the last night. It was a hectic evening with a lot of fun and a multitude of hilarious chief Scum pictures (RAKE IT, SCUM!). Naturally, it was capped off with a few games of ninja.
There were a few things that were made evident to me this week. The first was the sense of community found here. It's something I have noticed throughout my weeks here but sometimes it's more prominent than others. This was one of those weeks when I really noticed it. At Licking Valley I could sense it talking to everyone and watching all the seniors interact with one another and swap stories about their grandchildren. There was a genuine interest for the welfare of others that existed in that place. Going to Mosby for service on Wednesday showed the community that forms around Christ here. The Buckners make up the majority of Mosby's congregation and it's like a mini family reunion everytime they go to service. But it's always remarkable to me how they make such an effort to welcome us when we go. They really do make us feel like part of the family. The Construction guys over at People's were also an example of the community to be found here. It's been a while since I've worked with John and Rog's crew and I could sense they were sincere when they said they had missed working with me. They were excited to see me again and the feeling was mutual. In the short 3 months that I've been here, they've really welcomed me and made me feel like a part of the crew. Everywhere I go in Lewis County, I see examples of the strong community that exists here. It's a wonderful feeling. But it's also taught me some things.
The strength of the community here derives from 2 main sources: family and faith. At Notre Dame, it was a similar situation. The University does such an excellent job at fostering community and its cited so often that community is really a buzzword when discussing Notre Dame. The love that students have for the school is no accident and comes from the same sources as the community here: family and faith. There, it was so easy to tap into both sources. The dorm life, football games, and classrooms established the Notre Dame family while having chapels in every dorm and the many faith based programs and places around campus made up the faith portion. It was the perfect storm for a patently lazy person such as myself. All I literally had to do was wander downstairs every week to go to mass. But I found that a funny thing happened when I went home. Now that it wasn't so easy, I would miss Church. Being here has reminded me that you can find a strong community in places other than Notre Dame. It may take effort, but the effort that you exert brings back rewards far exceeding it.
The second thing I noticed this week was the power of doing small things. While at Licking Valley one woman commented on how I seemed to memorize everyone's name after meeting them. It was such a small gesture on my part but it really made an impact on this woman. When we were at Mosby, Rick came around (like he always does) to shake everyone's hand before the service. Again, it's a small gesture but it does so much. It sets the tone for the service and creates such a welcoming atmosphere. Those dual lessons of community and doing the small things are ones I hope to bring back with me long after my year here is up.