The first two months as a DioCal Intern, from one perspective

Recently, my supervisor asked me to “just write about your experiences here so far.” To really respond to that, I have to tell you about why I’m here. It was about this time last year when I started reading about the different Episcopal Service Corps programs online, talking with friends who had done a year with ESC in various locations, and discussing with my priest about what this might be like and what I was hoping to get out of this year. I was a senior in college, finishing up my B.S. in middle school math and science education and not thrilled with the idea of teaching in public schools after graduation. I had been thinking about some kind of ministry as a career option for myself, but wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do.

Teaching campers how to make dry-ice ice cream

So I applied to cities across the country with the goal of finding a program that would force me to stretch myself. I needed to go far away from the DC-Maryland-Virginia bubble that I call home — staying in the “DMV” would be too easy. I also needed a program that would allow me to do a lot of discernment. I wanted time set aside with people to help me along the way. Yes, I wanted to live in community with others and was excited for the challenge that living in an intentional community would prove to be, but I really wanted to discern. The DioCal program seemed exceptional, standing out with the generous amount of time and people in place to help interns discern, both individually and as a cohort. Add in the opportunity to live in the Bay Area (how much farther from Maryland could I have gotten?) and I was sold — this was the right next step for me.

So at the end of the summer, I packed up my Toyota and headed out west! I was going to live in a place I had never been, with people I had never met, to work at an unknown site, and to try to discern my next steps in life. Yes, I’m aware of how absurd that sounds, but I made it out here safely and began the long (and still continuing) process of getting settled.

   

All of a sudden, now it’s November. I know the names and some of the stories of the six other interns I live with. I’m exploring my new home (from Sliver to the Castro to Karl the fog, the Bay Area has yet to disappoint — except maybe for BART). I know my daily routine at the Diocese of California’s house, my worksite for the year. I’ve met with my personal spiritual director and the community has met with our group spiritual director. I’ve been to community nights at CDSP, the seminary that houses the interns. So I’m here, and I’m doing it. We’re all here, and we’re all doing it.

Two months into our ten, what can I say? For the community, we’re doing our best. We are a diverse seven, and living in intentional community isn’t easy. Our Rule of Life just got finished, but it’s a living document that will continue to grow and evolve with us throughout the next eight months. I’m learning a lot at my workplace — this math and science teacher didn’t have much experience behind a camera or being a journalist of sorts, but I’m loving learning how to do these things, and how to do them well, which is thanks to the mentoring and feedback from my supervisors, and not something you find in all internship programs.

As for me and my discernment? It’s going great. Absolutely, I still have more questions than answers, but I have a large network of people to talk and pray with, books to read, beautiful places to sit with my thoughts and a journal, eight more months, and a lifetime after that. Now, in an effort to stay grounded, and because of who I am as a person, I’m already thinking about what I’ll do when this program ends, so the discernment of what’s next has me thinking under a healthy amount of “this time is limited” pressure. But I am confident in myself, the people around me, and God to help me figure it out. In eight months, I’ll be embarking on the next right step for me, again.