It was a wonderful weekend, full of surprises, meditation, worship, secrets, prayer, and great conversations. But mostly for me, it was a break from real life. Don’t get me wrong, it was jam-packed full of busyness and exhaustion, and there wasn’t really much downtime overall (which for an introverted guy like me, was a bit draining), but it was a nice pause from the real life happenings of the day-t0-day life of a hall director.

There were no students telling me they got locked out of their rooms, no incident reports in my inbox, and no conduct meetings to prepare for. However, there were a few presentations to prepare for and several other mildly nerve-wracking items on the Encounter agenda. But also to be fair, there weren’t any staff meetings, one-on-ones with RAs, or Sunday Night at the Races during the Encounter either, so it wasn’t some utopian, flawless weekend (plus, I don’t hate my job…FYI).

It was, however, different. And that difference couldn’t have come at a better time.

The last retreat I went on was our Villa Maria hall retreat, back in January. It was great. Really, really great. But other than staying up with the guys till 2am playing card games, it honestly wasn’t very different than my normal life. There was a lot of hanging out with Villans, eating with Villans, talking with Villans, and going to mass…with Villans. While we definitely hung out a bit more compared to a normal weekend, as a staff member on the trip, it wasn’t exactly wildly different than the normal, everyday life as a hall director in Villa.

Over the last few months, I’ve been applying to job after job after job and I’m guessing that will continue for some time. While I do love learning about new schools and new possibly open positions, there’s really no good way to soften the blow of someone rejecting you. While it is just a rejection of my resume, cover letter and application, so much of my time and effort goes into each application, that it feels like a rejection of me as a person. And even though I haven’t heard back from most of the jobs I’m applying for yet, I know the tsunami of rejection is slowly making its way to Portland, Ore.

There is one job that I’m very excited for though, or at least, I’m trying to not let myself get very excited for. It’s a bit different than most of the other positions I’m applying for, and it’s definitely something I’m passionate about and I honestly think I’d be great for it. Every single time my phone dings, telling me that I have a new email, my heart stops for a moment. I know that as soon as I get that email, I’ll be able to decipher the contents of the entire thing, by either just the title, or even the first 2 lines that my phone gives me as a preview. I know that as soon as I “slide to unlock”, my future will be forever changed, and right now, living in the limbo of anxiety and excitement, is a hell of a lot better than living in rejection and disappointment.

This past weekend, my phone was on silent the entire time, and my phone did not ding once. It was glorious.

I’d like to practice this more in my everyday life. However, having your phone on silent isn’t a luxury a hall director can afford very often–we’re basically endlessly on call, and that’s not something that gets easier with time.

During the encounter retreat, I was able to spend a lot of time with my wife, Mrs. Hannah Helms, which is something I don’t think we’ve done enough of lately. We talked a lot, went on several walks, helped each other prepare for different presentations, and we even tried to sleep in the same twin-sized bed (warning: do not attempt unless both of you are what society deems “petite”). It didn’t take long for Hannah to roll out of the bed and take her pillow and sleeping bag to the top bunk of the bed we were sharing–it was an interesting weekend to say the least.

I also had some time to take a few pictures here and there, which is a passion of mine that I have not practiced in some time now.

I think overall, it was just a good wake up call. I don’t know if I’ve been living my life up to the standards or the expectations I have of myself. I’ve been much less intentional with my time and actions the last few months, and because it’s been such a slow process, I didn’t even notice it. It has been like a fog of apathy has been slowly rolling in, over my eyes, until I was finally blind with the delusion that I actually gave a crap.

I know Encounter is a lot more than just this, but to me it was a slap in the face–the good kind; the kind that wakes you up and jolts you into consciousness. I’m not entirely sure what this means right now, but I know it’s not nothing.

I guess wherever I am next year, it’ll be important to change it up, to not live in an endless cycle of habits and check lists. I need to be able to take a weekend off and get away with my amazing wife, spend time with family, read a book, write a poem, and reorient my life with my goals. And in whatever job I have next year, I hope to God I can find the time and opportunity to just put my phone on silent from time to time.

Here goes nothing…



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