By Dana Krimker
When I began my year as an AVODAH corps member, I felt like a little fish in a big pond that was scary and new. Starting this new chapter of my life was intimidating because I felt unsure of what to expect. I am at a big transition in my life, as I am now working for the first time after college and learning what type of work is important to me. For the past four years, I have developed the mentality to always be on the go. College gave me the skills to learn independence and the opportunity to explore new experiences. But I felt I never had a moment to truly rest. Yes I slept, especially on the weekends, but I never gave myself the time to reflect on what was happening around me.
Two weeks ago, we read Parashat Vayeshev, which speaks to this chronic problem of not resting. Here, Jacob struggles to rest for a total of 34 years. Finally when he “lays down,” Jacob reaches a pinnacle moment of holiness in his life, a moment to absorb the many years of his prior spiritual exploration. All of his experiences only have the time to be absorbed when he finally surrenders himself to “lay down.” Coming into this year, I wanted a chance to “lay down” as well – the opportunity to step back from my academic life of constant studying and constant stress. Laying down allows me to fully take in the moments I have experienced and to let them settle in. Laying down gives me the permission and validation to process these moments so that I have the motivation to continue to do my work and not let it overtake me.
Coming into this year, I was thrown into new, sometimes overwhelming, situations, both in communal living and in the work at my placement. I learned to roll with the punches and soon became a sponge that slowly expanded to absorb all of these new experiences. Having settled into my routine, I am now taking the opportunity to “lay down” — to pause and reflect. I decided to commit a year to serving the DC community and to make an investment in my life and the lives around me. I have always had a desire to do good work in this world and to make some type of a difference. Yet I have felt, at times, like that little fish in a large pond, swimming around trying to impact others and attempt to make some type of change. I question how much I can accomplish in a year. However, with time to “lay down,” I begin to feel not as small, and that the water around me each day is slowly becoming clearer and clearer. I have realized the moments in which I stop to reflect, to ask myself hard questions about the way I am spending this year, are indicative of my growth. It is in these moments that the water becomes clearer.
Since August, I have realized this year is a balancing act. There are many hats I wear – my “client services” hat at work and my “supportive housemate” hat in the AVODAH house. I am learning what it means to be a part of an intentional community and that what I do matters to the clients and community I work with. Whether my job is to just clean the kitchen every Sunday, manage our house funds, or meet with new clients around the DC area who are suffering from a life-challenging illness – it all takes balance to juggle these new situations. The ability to balance all of these new sides of my life has been challenging. I have learned that balance does not mean everything is figured out. Balance means being able to react to dynamic change from a core of stability. In order to seek this balance, I must make time to “lay down” and absorb my experiences. I committed this year to lay down, to take the time to reflect, and to let myself be influenced by others around me. I hope that the moments I experience at work and in my communal living environment continue to force me outside of my comfort zone. And I hope that I find spaces between those moments to take time to “lay down”, as Jacob did, I find new insights and depth of understanding.
Dana is from Melrose, PA, attended the University of Maryland and is a New Services Associate at Food & Friends.