BY SARAH CRITCHFIELD
There’s something so sweet about a fresh start.
The end of my college career came abruptly and unforgivingly. Quarantine was spent scrolling online for hours and weeping white woman tears at the hopelessness of public health that hinges on individual choice. Could being asked to care for a stranger by covering your cough with cloth really spark an ideological divide? I was ripped out of my childish naivete as the importance, immediacy, and presence of illness, racism, and capitalism bled into my privileged and protected worldview.
This upheaval of my immediate surroundings struck my heart with constant questions. Jeanette Winterson asks, “Why is the measure of love loss?” I felt so much loss and was trying to pull the love out of those nostalgic achings. Scrambling between Facetimes and phone calls, my friends and I daydreamed about human connection and change.
I did not realize this change would glow like an El Paso sunset or that I’d fall in love with the world all over again.
Joy stretched the skin around my smile so much I couldn’t keep my secrets ensnared. In an embarrassing burst of overabundance, I blurted that the roommates I barely remembered the names of were my best friends. Even though we blushed past the polite quiet and flowed into the kind continuation of the next subject, I felt the fist my heart was holding unfurl.
Villa Maria is a wondrous unsettling of my insatiable search for perfection. Being a reader and researcher has value, but I am constantly reminded of how important it is to be a person first. Thinking I’m the protagonist and being fueled by image or others’ opinions of me is waaaay different from actual actions and efforts.
I can’t keep saying I’m a social justice advocate by slapping Redbubble stickers on Apple products. In the middle of this white guilt-filled revelation, I remember Brianna Chandler’s call to action, “I will love myself through the unlearning...We must be patient with ourselves, while also leaning into accountability and growth.”
My work demands acts of community care. Care is listening to residents unfold their hearts, reading their handwritten poems, or cherishing the laughs their TikToks pull out of you.
In the middle of journaling about jokes and the need for seriousness, I come across the meme account @possumkratom69’s post that reads, “Imagine a world where violence is rare, where people are free, where no one goes hungry, where we treat the environment right, where land is returned to Indigenous peoples and justice is served for the marginalized. Taste it. See it. Revel in the image. Let it sink into your bones. And help us make it real.”
I’m learning every day that a new world is possible and I hope to be walking alongside the people guiding us there. This world must be born of joy and liberation. It is creative and imaginative. It’s belly laughs and beauty and dreams of better.
Sarah Critchfield (she/her) was born in St. Louis and just finished studying English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Dayton. When she isn’t sharing stories, she is skateboarding, ordering oat milk lattes, contemplating getting bangs, or crying to Lorde in the car. Sarah loves to read and write about gender, sexuality, prison abolition, communicating across difference, shame, and sisterhood. Sarah has plans to overshare on the internet, break into the feminist stand-up scene, and do her best to dismantle white-supremacy, patriarchy, and other systems of oppression. The five things that make her happy are hugs from friends, finding new vegetarian restaurants, scrolling through Twitter, doing people’s astrological birth charts, and meeting people’s families.
10/12/2020 11:28:29 am
Loved reading your reflection, Sarah! You're a gift to the LoVo program!
10/12/2020 12:07:46 pm
Wow! You pulled me right in with you. Loved the photos, but loved the pictures your words drew even more. Thank you for sharing.
10/12/2020 12:13:10 pm
Well said and insightful, Sarah!
10/12/2020 12:14:41 pm
so beautiful, critch! proud of your work and profound joy and love
10/12/2020 12:56:59 pm
beautifully written!!! 💕
10/12/2020 03:21:49 pm
10/12/2020 04:31:55 pm
Love the message, and the gift you have to share it. So proud of you! ❤️
10/12/2020 06:03:11 pm
This is fabulous! You give me some hope during these strange, dark days.
10/13/2020 12:27:35 am
I am impressed, once again, by your ability to use beautiful words to tackle hard things. Writing is powerful and so are you!
Mary jo welch
10/13/2020 06:49:51 pm
Wow!! Your work is beautiful!
10/13/2020 07:07:05 pm
Sarah, you have an amazing gift to reach people’s souls with your words:) Keep writing!
10/14/2020 06:43:00 am
Your eloquent words are so inspiring. Keep leading with your passion and words. Others will follow.
10/22/2020 11:20:30 am
This is not just a description of where you are, what you are doing, and how you are feeling. It is all there, but it is in poetry. The images of poetry go deeper than prose. You have done that so well. Thank you.
10/22/2020 03:25:58 pm
So beautifully written Sarah. Your efforts to be the change you wish to see in the world are inspiring. Thank you for sharing your journey!
10/23/2020 10:01:29 pm
Your reflections really resonate with a lot that's on my mind, too, Sarah. Thank you.
10/31/2020 07:45:21 am
"There’s something so sweet about a fresh start.
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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.