Monday, July 18, 2011

By Degrees

Today was a busy mail day.

I got an invitation to the first profession of a dear friend, and the first newsletter of the Newman House where I spent the past two years. Included in that newsletter was a mention that I'd been awarded the highest honor a graduating journalism student can receive. (I'm blessed.)

Tucked into the envelope was a note from my chaplain, asking me to critique this new endeavor for him, and assuring me of his prayers that my new job is going well, etc.

And just a few days ago, the director at Newman sent me a couple of devotionals that she had been stocking me with while I was still a student, along with a post-it: "Hi! Miss you. Thought you'd want these -- see you soon."

All of this acted as a warm, sweet embrace from the community and people I have grown to call family. With that, though, came a pang of longing. When I don't think about my college days, everything is fine. But at times like these, when I get news of younger friends or a note like that, I miss it all so much.

It's been two months now since I graduated, and scrolling down just a few posts only proves how chaotic it's all been. On the upside, I can say now that things have thankfully calmed down at the homestead. The various family medical crises have resolved -- unfortunately, not all of them happily -- and I no longer need supplements for my anxiety.

Over the past few weeks, I've finally started to settle into the new rhythm of work life, and with that, everything is feeling much more normal. "Welcome back," my best friend said last weekend. She's noticing that I'm acting like my old self again, too.

Of course, there's probably always going to be that sense of holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop. But I don't worry about that. Though I lose my footing so often, with God's help I always seem to claw myself back to the present moment.

At little at a time, by degrees, I'm settling in. It may not be happening as fast or as smoothly as I hoped, but hey, I'll get there. Patience and persistence.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anything You Can Do

It's the feast of Maria Goretti. My feast day. In her honor, I had a root beer float. I often imagine that she were around today, we'd have a great deal in common. Poor as her family was, I bet gelato was a rare treat now and then.

As similar as she and I are, though, there is one thing that puts us depressingly at odds: where she succeeded, choosing to sacrifice her life rather than surrender her purity, I have failed and fail still.

Granted, things could be a lot worse, and I believe that there have been many situations where God has sheltered me from the consequences of recklessness. Now, looking back, I'm so grateful.

In my patron, I also find courage to look toward the future. While she was only 12 when she died, chastity was comfortable for her. If God had asked it of her, I have no doubt she would have lived her life that way. To me, not knowing yet where my vocation rests, it makes the thought of extended chastity a little less terrifying.

Today, I was thinking on seeing all those that have died when we reach heaven. I'm not especially devoted to any saint, except maybe Maria. "It would be so awesome to meet her," I thought.

And in that moment, I was totally humbled. At 12, she was able to do perfectly and without hesitation what I imagine I'll be fighting to do my whole life. Talk about being put to shame by a kid!

On the bright side, that's exactly why we have the communion of saints to draw on. They're not lofty people with unreachable legacies. They were ordinary people who, by grace, had the strength to do incredible things.

And if they can do it, well, why can't we?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Dependent Freedom

My Independence Day was a quiet one, spent with my family at home. I'm grateful that I live in a place where I have that luxury. So many others aren't as lucky.

At the same time, over the last couple of weeks I've had a lot of time to reflect on my own personal independence. It hit me last weekend that now that I'm out of college, the rest of my life is entirely what I make it. I have complete freedom over the shape and direction it takes. That's an awesome, humbling realization.

Yet despite all that, I see a certain irony in it. Everything my country stands for -- personal success, wealth, possessions, pride, glory -- are the complete opposite of what life with Christ should look like.

We are called to selflessness, surrender, and as the Gospel reminded us this weekend, to be meek and humble of heart. It's a tall order, and admittedly, not a very American one.

But at the same time, in that same Gospel we hear that His yoke is easy and His burden light. It brings us freedom. So often, people are fixed on having to do everything alone, and that to ask for help is a sign of weakness. I have been victim of this myself over and over again, usually willing myself beyond my means before burning out and landing back in the confessional.

Slowly, by baby steps, I'm understanding what St. Paul meant when he said power is made perfect in weakness. In depending on God that we can learn to be truly free.