(From L to R) A photo I took of a blossoming tree near my apartment, me at the Rose Garden, and me taking a gardening break with a friend at the Eloheh farm.


As my time with EcoFaith Recovery wraps up, I took some time to reflect on my time and work here.

What does it mean to do work you care about? We are often told to seek out work that we care about, that is our passion. In a world that runs on the exploitation of laborers, what does that actually end up looking like?

I spent the last 8 months with EcoFaith Recovery in a transitional space. I graduated college in 2021 and was hopeful, like all graduates are, to find work in a space I cared about, that I envisioned myself working in. Work around policy and advocacy, what I believed was a space where I could make a difference. Months went by of me applying to dozens of jobs and networking with folks in my areas of interest with no returns. Eventually I ended up accepting a full-time AmeriCorps role (essentially government subsidized exploitation). This role would not be enough financially for me to support myself, so I sought out other work. I was so grateful that a long-time mentor of mine from college sent me the job posting from EcoFaith Recovery. Although I didn’t have concrete, resume applicable social media experience, I’m a relatively tech-savvy Gen-Z person who is too often on social media. The goals and vision of this organization seemed aligned with what I had seen myself doing after college, so I was excited at the opportunity.

The goal of this internship was to have an intern available for the Eloheh Indigenous Center for Earth Justice to help them in their planning and execution of Randy Woodley’s Becoming Rooted inaugural 100 Days Journey. For the first part of my internship, my time was really split between EcoFaith and Eloheh. I worked with a team of folks at Eloheh to build engagement on social media and excitement leading up to the book’s release. This was such a great team to be a part of, and seeing the book sell out its initial printing and the success of our early events like the Facebook lives. Erna, who led our team, often reminded us early on that this 100 day journey would be a marathon, not a sprint. This was something I came back to again and again throughout my time collaborating with Eloheh.

My time at EcoFaith was definitely one of growth. My intentions coming into this role were centered around relationship building. I feel called to build relationships and bear witness to others’ lives, and was able to do both of these in my work here. I spent a decent amount of my time talking with people, virtually and in person. I enjoyed the Thursday morning meetings I was able to attend, where I found myself intentionally being called to slow down and center myself. I loved the time in person I was able to spend with folks, out at the Eloheh farm, as well as the few one to ones I had in person.

I think one of the hardest things for me in this role was balance. I took on this role because financially, I needed to. I was excited to be able to take on something I saw myself fitting into well, but at the end of the day, I was seeking out additional financial support for myself. I was really hoping to be able to put more emotional energy into this work, but often found myself at the end of the 5 day work week exhausted from my main role, and would end up focusing on the tasks assigned to me each week. Some Thursday mornings it was so hard to pull myself out of bed and engage in a space with folks older than me, often those with more resources (financially, time, etc.) than I who were able to dedicate more of themselves to this work. I often found myself resonating most with #7 of the Practices for Awakening Leadership that we focus on in EcoFaith Recovery, which is restoring balance. When we’d share out what actions we were to take before our next meeting, I often found myself talking about how I needed to rest or I was going to try to do things that would help fill my cup. 

What does it mean to move forward? Do you look back with regret and what ifs, or with pride in what you accomplished, no matter what you had initially set out to do? What does it mean to keep growing, moving, and pushing further?

In looking back I could scold myself for taking too much on, not taking enough time to fill my cup. But how can I? How much of a choice did I really have in all of this? I’m grateful that I was able to seek out additional work that was with an organization that paid well, thatcared about my wellbeing, and valued my honesty and insight. At the same time, I do wish I could’ve put more emotional energy and intention into this work. I am grateful for the grace you all have given me, the willingness you’ve all had to meet me where I’m at and tell me that is good enough.

I am excited to continue on growing and building my community in Portland. I am starting in a new full-time role at Impact NW and will finally only have one job to financially support myself! I am excited for the future and emotional to also move forward into the unknown. Change is scary, yet it is something we are all so familiar with. I think one of the easiest ways to frame this for myself is accepting change as the only constant, and by trying to find comfort in it, I get to try as many things as possible.

Reflections on Intention, Balance, and Grace by Meg Bender-Stephanski, EcoFaith Intern
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