a jv’s remarks at “a celebration of service”

Second year JV, Miranda Hall (Anchorage, AK ’11-12 & Missoula, MT ’12-13) joined guests at “A Celebration of Service” in Seattle on Sunday to share about her experience as a JV. Many thanks to Miranda for her thoughtful remarks below:

Good morning. It is a big thrill to be here. As a JV, an invitation for a meal is always a thrill – especially when there are vegan doughnuts. But it’s even more amazing to celebrate a community I cherish.

It’s easy for me to celebrate JVC Northwest. It is a life-affirming, spirit-transforming, joy-galvanizing program. In my two years as a JV, I have built life-long friendships with community members, social injustices, mountains, and core values. I have had vision-altering conversations with area directors and staff, and felt the full power of my privileges – the greatest, I think, being service. When I look back at my years as a JV, I will remember having thrived, consumed by love, by a sense of purpose, and by the freeing effect of radical living.

It’s an easy story to celebrate.

But I have also learned that the easy story is rarely the complete one.

The truth is: I’m having a hard time. For the past twenty-one months, I’ve been re-evaluating everything I believe. I’ve been pinching every penny, attending to daily crisis counseling, and even compromising my grocery lists. Life as a JV has called me to scrape the base of my exhaustion. It has lead me to the heart of my grief. I’ve had to confront my shortcomings in painful discussions, I’ve fought for privacy in a crowded house, and stammered, tongue-tied, to relieve others’ suffering.

It’s been really hard. And I haven’t always wanted to keep showing up.

But somehow, I have. And I think it’s because JVC Northwest keeps showing up for me. Maybe it’s a long coffee with an area director, or a dinner with our support people. Or it’s game night with the FJVs, and a giggle fit at home on the couch. It’s taken the form of silent vigils at retreat, a free salmon on our doorstep, and even fundraising brunches.

However it comes, its message is the same: the struggle matters. You matter. And this was never meant to be easy.

I celebrate this community because it celebrates the tough stuff. It teaches that the call to service is an inherent call for change. And that change comes slowly, gets personal, and demands sacrifice and confusion. Change means that my life is now bound with Anchorage’s IV drug users, children who have spent their lives in shelter, and men who abuse their wives. It means that I have sought peace through chaos. I have risked security for love.

The risk, as it turns out, is worth it: I am becoming more fully human. Jack Morris, and his legacy, have ruined me with that.

I know that the depth of this becoming stems from the depth of my support. It’s a luxury that not everybody has. But it’s one we need to keep providing JVs.

At the start of this year, I donated back the $3000 AmeriCorps surplus I’d earned in Alaska. That’s been one way for me to give back to a community that has given so much to me. And in whatever form your generosity takes today, I honor your contribution, and I thank you. You have made love known to me. And for the rest of my joyfully “ruined” life, I will be grateful. Thank you.

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