Around this time of year, most people find it fairly easy to slip into the so called “January blues.” The holidays are over, vacation time has run out, and all of the excitement of the New Year has subsided by now. For many parts of the country – definitely here in Chicago – the days are cold and darkness comes far too quickly each night.
In addition to the settling back into the regular grind, this time can often be a fairly lonely one. I know many of us in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps community likely have made voyages home over the last few months for the holidays. Whether for merely a weekend or a week or more, many Volunteers have had the opportunity to travel to wherever holds importance to them. Maybe it was your hometown, college town, or someplace entirely new with people you love. We’ve had time to reconnect with friends, family, significant others, and other loved ones that we may be far from this year with LVC. After this period of fellowship and intimacy, it can be startling to return to our respective LVC communities and jobs. In truth, this time of coming “back to reality” can be quite isolating.
While it can be easy to lose joy this time of year, warmth and comfort can continue to be found in the beauty of the things that surround you. For me, I’ve been warmed by the community of my LVC house here in Chicago, Casa Oscar Romero. Although my biological family and close friends are no longer with me physically, I find comfort in knowing my Casa housemates are here for and with me. Here, I am invited to be a part of an intentional, closely bonded community where I am welcomed and accepted exuberantly.
Here are just some of the ways I’ve seen and experienced community in Casa Oscar Romero so far:
-Bringing home chocolate ice cream
-Sharing whatever food has been prepared with others (“Have you eaten dinner yet?”)
-Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. competitions
-Random “You can do it! I believe in you!” text messages
-Washing someone’s dishes for them
-Folding someone’s laundry for them
-Supporting each other during mental health struggles
-Practicing both sympathy and empathy
-Supporting each other’s organizations
-Contributing ingredients to make one communal meal
-Getting excited about Netflix shows together
-Laughing about cereal box characters
-Getting acquainted with others’ loved ones (whether virtually or in person)
-Sharing a glass of wine together
All in all, I have been able to feel the warmth of community this month, despite the freezing temperatures outside and though the holidays have come and gone. Though the “January blues” are a constant possibility, I have managed to fight them off and stay warm through the embrace of my Casa community this month.
Casa Oscar Romero