Leaving home for. . . what?

Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, is pictured in an undated photo. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York opened the canonical inquiry on the life of the social justice advocate. (CNS photo/courtesy Milwaukee Journal)

by Olivia Martin

Recently I attended a presentation on transitions and change given to young priests of the archdiocese. I chose an out-of-the-way seat in the back and tried to be as invisible as possible as I took notes.

I was surprised when Msgr. John Canary, the presenter, said: “Next to death experience, for most people the most stressful thing that can come upon an individual is to change residence.”

I’d never heard that before. His words struck me, personally, because I am about to change residence.

Like, really change it.

This month I’m moving to Europe. 

And as exciting and anticipated as this change is, I still don’t quite feel ready for it. 

Msgr. Canary said, too, that the difficulty one has in leaving a place is determined by how much she values what she’s leaving behind, compared with what she’s going to. 

In my experience this makes sense. I’m leaving behind friends, family and a job I love for three big question marks and a shoulder shrug.

Until recently, I’ve taken comfort in the thought that I can come back to Kansas City in a year or so. But I’m realizing that planning on returning before I’ve even left might not be the most helpful mindset to have.

But that mindset has shown me something I didn’t recognize before.

When I started at The Leaven, I hadn’t lived in the same place longer than 6 months for several years. I was always moving, which made me feel I didn’t have a place I really belonged to. 

But that has changed. 

Kansas City has become my home. 

Living here, especially within a community of faith with friends from Benedictine College and Communion and Liberation, has made me a better, happier and more mature person. 

And working at The Leaven has undoubtedly made the most difference in my life in Kansas City. It introduced me to the wider community, gave me good work in which I could learn, improve my writing and become interested in others and introduced me to some of the most incredible people — and my coworkers have made me smile and laugh every single day. 

Truly, I could not be more grateful for The Leaven and the people who give it life.

One beautiful thing about endings is the opportunity to look back and assess what has happened to you during a certain period of life. 

Msgr. Canary said this looking back is essential to moving from the beginning stage of transition to the in-between (and eventually to the full adjustment). He said in the face of impending change to look back on how you’ve grown, thank the people who made that growth happen and just be grateful for the life you’ve lived in that place.

So, I’ve got to thank my truly incredible coworkers, Father Mark, Anita, Joe, Beth, Todd and Moira, for welcoming me into The Leaven like family — and putting up with my sarcasm and persistent tardiness. 

I’m grateful for all of the readers of The Leaven — your stories, readership and support have made fulfilling work a reality for me.

So, off I go! But The Leaven is here to stay — and you can read more about Father Canary’s presentation in this week’s issue.

I sign off with a quote from my favorite journalist, Servant of God Dorothy Day, that I find rings true: “The best thing to do with the best things in life is to give them up.”

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