About a year ago, a question popped into my head that I wasn’t quite able to fully shake. In the middle of discerning whether or not to reapply for a second year of service with Lasallian Volunteers, I found myself returning over again to this question: “What would it mean to stay?”
What would it mean to stay? In Rhode Island, in the same ministry placement, in community. I weighed options of where I would otherwise go and, ultimately, of what I would lose in leaving behind a state, a home, a group of people that I felt I was just getting to know.
Somewhere along the way, over time, and after a successful reapplication to the program, I stopped asking what would it mean to stay and started considering, or asking, reflecting on, what does it mean to stay.
What does it mean to stay in Rhode Island, to really allow myself to feel at home and to let this state, though not my original hometown, come to feel like home.
What does it mean to stay at my ministry site, to lock the gate and set the alarm system as one of the last to leave the building, trusting in giving my best to work—but then embracing rest and Sabbath, coming to better learn my limits and cease striving.
What does it mean to stay in community, to sit and linger at the dinner table, oftentimes captivated by a story or catching my breath from laughing too hard. Does this choice of being the last to leave the table value relationships, does it express how honored I am to listen to and hold others’ stories, the good news of their days, even the hard news of what they may be facing?
Staying means all of these things. It means being vulnerable, being diligent, being humble and being present. Praise God for this invitation, this conscious choice to stay! What beauty, humor, life and joy is found here — in this space of staying!
I suppose sometime soon my question will once again change.
Now over halfway through my second year of service, and beginning to discern a new next step, perhaps I’ll soon be tweaking the focus of the question. I’m starting to wonder not necessarily what it means to stay, but instead to wonder what it will mean to have this experience stay with me. To let the lessons, memories and relationships—to let all the growth I’ve experienced over the past two years—take root in whatever next step I take.
I’m looking forward to it, that’s for certain. There always has been an air of excitement to the unknown possibilities of “next.” Today, I’m grateful that whatever and wherever my “next” is, it will be informed by and imbued with all that I’ve received from the Lasallian mission and the experiences of the past two years. How wonderful it is to see that when we’ve eventually decided to move from the places in which we once chose to stay will, in many ways, stay with us.
Sarah Sprinkle is a second-year LV serving at The San Miguel School of Providence in Rhode Island. She is a 2019 graduate of Villanova University with a major in urban and community studies and a minor in education.