• justlovegsv

Into the Wilderness

Updated: Sep 25


Our first activity during orientation and retreat week involved creating vision board collages about who we are and why we are here. The prompt was open-ended and could be carried off on a journey in a multitude of directions. We were supplied with magazines and scissors and a blank canvas. Sit with me a moment and try to visualize this piece coming together:


  • Assignment: make a vision board or collage out of magazine clippings that stand out to you.

  • Action: find too many words that jump off the page, take too long cutting them out, and have too much to work with in terms of making a collage.

  • Decision: make a poem as your vision board using the many words and phrases you found instead of following directions. Whoops.

While I often identify as a visual learner, words have a special place in my heart. They leap off the page, wrap up a feeling I cannot express, and connect me to person after person. So, I guess I should not have been surprised to find that after taking too long to flip through magazines, I had a pile of words and phrases clipped from the glossy pages lying before me in some sort of haphazard dictionary. I had not completely forgotten to cut out pictures for my vision board; however, looking around, I had only a small pile of pictures - most of these were glimpses of greenery and outdoor spaces. If I sit and think about the “Why?” behind my choosing to be a GSV this year, I am drawn to the word “journey,” which for me is personally rooted in the outside world. It felt only right to lay down these pictures of nature as my backdrop for this most current adventure - my journey as a 2020-2021 GSV.


With my green backdrop in place, I stared at the words and phrases I had spent the last hour cutting and wondered how they could cohesively fit onto the canvas before me. I felt as though I was staring at a trail map, unsure which way to go. How could I possibly arrange these words in a way that made sense to me, let alone my fellow GSVs? I stared at the word “roots” and a messy little poem began to unravel. Taking a deep breath, I took my first step into the forest trail before me, one paved with words. I spread out my clippings and began stringing together a poem using these words and phrases to express the feelings and vision I had for this year.


Now “Why GSV?” is a big question, especially in the midst of a pandemic. What unfolded onto my vision board was the following poem, one that scratches only the surface of my “Why?” to a year as a GSV. This poem was written to and for my fellow GSVs as well as to and for those who will welcome us into community this year. Thank you.


The questions prompt me to give my life a taste of adventure.

Who do I want to be? What do I want to do? What is the next step?

How do I embark on a lifetime journey to love?

I’ve sat at these crossroads before, when it feels like life could weave together or unravel.

I wonder if I am part of a great master mosaic, or if the artist is injured.

I sit here searching for something, but for what I do not know.

Every choice feels like a step toward figuring it out.

This choice - to plant roots in a new community - reminds me that I am part of a larger body, the whole, and that there is something in growing,

something that reflects how we are better together as one.

I hope that this foundation with you all provides a space for rethinking, changing, understanding, and looking at life through a new point of view.

I am ready to mix it up and beat to a different drum in a new place.

I pray that this experience is filled with PEACE alongside you - warrior women.

I hope that here we can each find ourselves at home in a place where we support our neighbors, value that less is more, feel light transformed, sing a song of hope,

and daily recognize the power of love.

I want to speak of unity and peace.

That is why I am here - for a healing after trauma

caused by a world that is rarely resting.

What happens now?

We just love.


I found that the clipped words and phrases were weaving themselves together more so than my forcing them into a corner of the canvas. This poem brought forth gratitude as I reflected on the trek I have taken to arrive here and the adventure that lies ahead. I look forward to the journey before me and am incredibly grateful for those (near and far) who find themselves accompanying me on this adventure - happy trails!


Written by,

Maddie Thompson

Wickatunk Community, ‘20-‘21




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Good Shepherd Volunteers connects recent college graduates to one-year, full time volunteer opportunities serving women, children, and adolescents affected by poverty, violence, and neglect. Developing relationships with under-resourced communities empowers volunteers to grow in a knowledge and faith that inspires them to lead a life of seeking justice. GSV has placements in New York, New Jersey and the Washington D.C. area in a variety of fields: public policy and advocacy, economic justice, youth counseling, foster care and education. 

CONTACT

T: (917) 832-7870 

F: (718) 408-2332

E: gsv@gsvolunteers.org

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