Sunday, February 27, 2011

Unexpected Surprise

At the beginning of this week, I sat at my computer desk like a sack of potatoes, nursing cramps and trying hard to console myself with sushi. It's been a weird few days -- a faith-based documentary we critiqued in a class led to a small crisis, but eventually, I got some interesting news.

There was a job opening in my field, and I was encouraged by the person who was supervising it to come in for an interview. This person knows me well. No application or resume was necessary.

After a 90 minutes of questions -- both from the relevant editors and many from me -- I left there with a job. A real job, post-graduation.

Blessed be God!

The position is a bit more than I would have expected for part-time work. OK, maybe a lot more. It has taken me this long to answer the question of whether or not I was even ready for this. While not getting into too much detail, I'm going to be in charge of a small publication that is released once a month with a daily paper. This means I get to brainstorm all of the content, implement the steps necessary for getting the content done, and coming up with photo ideas. All this needs to be finished months in advance of the publication date, just in case something goes wrong...which in journalism, things are wont to do.

I walked out of the newsroom and my mom asked if I was going to be sick. See, I thought I was going to be writing obituaries. This huge, amazing opportunity completely blindsided me and I was completely overwhelmed with emotions.

The night before, I had asked God to do whatever He felt was best for me. And then that happened.

So, if this is what's intended for me, I have no doubt I'll succeed. All I need is time to learn and adjust.

And faith.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Feasts and Seasons

I can't sleep. Like it or not, this time of year leaves me so unsettled. I grit my teeth and keep on. After last year, I know what this is and how to deal. For that, I'm thankful.

This week, we've had an unusual spike in warm weather; this has come in the midst of one of the harshest winters I can recall, at least temperature-wise. The appearance of 60s on the TV screen stirred something dormant in me, and I could have burst out of my skin once I got out of the house. (I did shed my coat in about 20 seconds.)

The warmth still hasn't melted all of the ice and snow, however. In fact, outside of Newman remains a stretch of ice several feet long and a good inch thick.

Still, as I soaked up the sun today with my first iced latte of the year, I couldn't help but note that shift in winter that means there's light at the end of the tunnel.

It always brings me back to the Wheel of the Year, even though my days of observing it are well behind me now. I've always found incredible peace and comfort in its rhythm and celebrations of the changing seasons. Now, it doesn't surprise me that I take that same comfort in the liturgical calendar. In both faiths, the cycle keeps me grounded and moving forward.

I'm still hyper-aware on the Pagan sabbats that share the day with Church feasts. Of course, the Presentation was celebrated a few weeks ago; I immediately thought of Imbolc and its rituals, of Brighid and her priestesses keeping the sacred fire alive. The two holy days are both on Feb. 2.

We were exactly halfway through the winter that day. Outside, the snow that has clung stubbornly to the ground since Christmas was melting into muddy piles of slush. Soon, I told myself. Not too much longer, and we'll be out of hibernation.

Ostara will come, then a month later spring's first full moon, and Easter just after it.

The whole world -- body and soul, physical and spiritual -- will come alive again.

It never ceases to amaze me. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Against the Grain

I would be remiss if I didn't talk a little bit about the retreat last weekend, which was a lot of fun. The mansion holds so many memories for the upperclassmen who have been there before, and it was particularly meaningful for the seniors graduating in just a few months.

The topic for the retreat focused on living an authentically Catholic sexuality as a young adult. Heaven knows anyone trying to avoid the prevalence of lust and greed in the media is going to have a hard time. We all do, and this weekend we were given tools to make the fight to stay pure a little less agonizing.

It's the job of the media to inform and educate our audiences, but we also carry the added responsibility of influence. Whether we mean it or not, audiences take their cues from TV, print media, and the Web. And unless you've been living in a cave for the last few decades, you've probably seen how pervasive and damaging some of the content is.

Drugs. Excessive drinking. Meaningless sex with any number of people in any number of ways. Objectification. Oppression. Bullying. Violence.

There's also the porn industry, which due to its sheer size and spread deserves a category of its own. Understand, the Church sees sex as the most intimate, holy thing that two people can give to each other. They give themselves freely and fully, without reserve and with complete trust. Sex has incredible power over humanity, and it has the potential to create and bond, or destroy and demean. It's not something you want to mess around with, (This, in a nutshell, is why we take strong positions against extramarital sex and birth control.)

One of the poignant moments of the weekend for me was when we split into groups by gender for a private discussion. For the ladies, we all expressed frustration with the way virginity is stigmatized. If you've not had sex by the time you're about 25, most of the world considers you doomed or somehow defective. And porn has created an inaccurate picture of what sex is, and who women are. Many of us carry the secret that we have been made into victims and objects because of it. More than anything, women want to stand up and support the men in our life as they try to honor us. And at the end of the day, we only want to be honored, too.

Check out this clip from the ABC hit drama Grey's Anatomy. It came up in our discussion and accurately shows the way virginity is treated today:

It was super encouraging to be surrounded by 15 women who all support each other, even when we screw up. And I'm so blessed to have met many strong, Catholic gentlemen who are on the front lines defending our dignity. One day, I believe God will point one out to me.

Until then, I'm a 21-year-old virgin. I've been single for over a year. And you know, it's not so bad.

Friday, February 4, 2011

And now, for something completely different...

I have to hold my breath and cross my fingers behind my back to even write this next sentence:

My faith is strong these days. (Of course, my inner skeptic is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but I digress.)

Advent and Christmas is always a wonderful time of year for me, but I usually approach the weeks that follow it with dread. I tend to go as bare and cold as the trees do, and after last year's adventure into nihilism, I was bracing myself for Something Ugly. It hasn't come, and I'm thanking God for every second of this unexpected calm.

I've been introduced twice now to a young adult group at a parish that's about ten minutes from campus. They're 18-25 year olds, most of them local, but some travel from all over because of their reputation.

You all know how I hate to sound cosmic, but allow it this once: the Spirit moves something fierce with these guys. And I confess that you will hardly ever find that at Newman, as much as I love them.

They come at the perfect time, as it seems God always works out for me. When I graduate, I'll no longer be allowed at Newman because it's a ministry for the university. But with ACTS, I know I am already finding a new home. I often asked myself until just recently how I would ever be able to transition from complete independence in my faith decisions to living back home where I depend on my parents. I think I have my answer.

I was going to write more on this, but for now, I'm leaving for my last(!!!!) retreat with Newman. It's snowing up at the mansion, so we're all very excited to be up in the hills. As always, your prayers would be most appreciated. I'll see you next week!