BY HANNAH DORFMAN
Intentional. It’s a word we toss around a lot as Loretto Volunteers. The program requires us to live in intentional community with our housemates. We are encouraged to be intentional about our time, spending habits, and impact on others and the environment. The work of social justice requires an intentional focus on solidarity, collaboration, self-education, and showing up. During my first year as a Loretto Volunteer, I learned how to integrate intention into nearly every aspect of my life. Intentional became less of a word and more of a mindset.
That’s why, as I entered my second year, I was eager and anxious--eager to establish comfort with my new housemates and anxious that a new community wouldn’t meet my expectations. A line from Jean Vanier’s essay On Community, which we read at our opening retreat, helped quiet these fears. “If we are to live in community, we have to be friends of time.”
Anyone who has ever met me will tell you that time is no friend of mine. Who needs patience when instant gratification exists? Who has time to build relationships when you can imagine them as lively and perfect from the outset? No, I was no friend of time, or so I thought.
“An individual’s growth towards love and wisdom is slow,” Vanier continues. “A community’s growth is even slower. It can be a great mistake to want, in the name of clarity and truth, to push things too quickly to a resolution.” Upon reading this, I realized I had fallen into my own trap. I had long thought of myself as no friend of time when in truth, I already was one. The courage, honesty, trust, and vulnerability it took last year to create a community filled with love and purpose took time. And it was not easy. There were moments of laughter and joy, followed by tears and pain. It was a constant cycle of change. I grew in myself, in others, and mostly importantly, in my relationship with time.
Now, as a true friend of time, I have released my expectations. I understand that being intentional is more of an ever-changing process than a state of being. It is not static. This year, I look forward to building something new, different, and life-giving with Jocelyn and Melissa. This something won’t come easy, nor will it come in an instant. But with patience at our sides, I trust that the three of us will create a community that is intentional, forgiving, bright, and compassionate. I trust that, in our own unique ways, we will each become friends of time.
Hannah Dorfman is from Columbus, OH and graduated in 2015 from Tufts University with a double major in Religious Studies and American Studies. She works as a Staff Associate at the Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual (WATER) in Silver Spring, MD, an educational and spiritual center for dialogue on faith, feminism, and justice. Hannah is an ultimate frisbee player, long-time cellist, and loves to cook and bake. She is incredibly grateful to be a part of the Loretto Community and to return as a second-year volunteer.
In Their Own Words
We invite you to get to know Loretto Volunteers and the program here. Volunteers introduce themselves and reflect on their experiences.