Tomorrow is my last day of AmeriCorps at Juniata College. As I look back over the past two years of working here in Huntingdon, and the four years prior to that when I was a college student here, I cannot help but feel immensely blessed. This place, no matter how small, holds an important and special corner of my heart and of my growth and identity as an individual. While my time here has been relatively short compared to some others, I have learned so much about what it means to be part of a community, how to form meaningful relationships with friends and mentors, the importance of going out of your way to live a better story and make memories with others.
If our lives are a book, the chapters in Huntingdon are well worn, with highlights, dog-eared page corners, and notes scribbled in the margins. As I have lived and worked in this small town, I have noticed myself becoming more and more intentional about being part of this community, and choosing activities or adventures that bring me closer to the places that hold meaning and the people I’ve grown to love. In the past two years especially, you might have found me visiting at the friendly Huntingdon soup kitchen with Juniata students, or sipping a latte in the warm atmosphere of Standing Stone Coffee Company while snow falls outside. I could have also been found making music on Thursday nights as part of the quirky but lovable Stone Church choir, or exploring trails around 1000 Steps or the Peace Chapel with friends, or deep in conversation with colleagues over craft beer and fresh cut fries at Boxers. You might have even found me attempting Shaun T’s Insanity workouts in the campus racquetball courts with my twentysomething friends (although admittedly, that lasted just a few winter months until the sun came back and we all wanted to be outside)!
I don’t mean to brag or sound like I have lived a luxurious, always-fruitful, and interesting life here. There have been struggles, especially financially, as I learned what it was like to go without a paycheck for a few months while AmeriCorps funding was unstable. Additionally, I balanced a full time job while dedicating several hours a week to one or two graduate level courses to begin my seminary work. I struggled with insecurity as I discerned, with the help of others, my call to ministry and licensing in the Church of the Brethren at the inexperienced and admittedly green age of 24. But through all of these adventures I know that God was and is there, placing people and situations in my own personal story of a life, to challenge and encourage me, to cheer for and love me. I can hardly express my gratitude and love for Huntingdon and the people in it. Like any good book, I look forward to revisiting its pages and places, recalling the notes I scribbled and places I highlighted and lessons I learned.