Fragile Keep Cool
3 weeks ago 3 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Fordham’s Beautiful Music - Julianne

Hey all!


Okay, so, I am a fan of nothing if not dramatic timing. Originally, I was going to send out this last reflection yesterday morning, before graduation. That proved totally impossible, because even though I woke up at 6:30, I was still running around like a lunatic trying to get everything all done. So I’m writing it now. It’s a little lengthy, because…me. It’s time to reflect on graduating from one of my favorite places on earth.
So, yesterday. Graduation Day. I walked onto Eddie’s an undergrad student and walked away a graduate. The Dean mispronounced my name (Julianna), I brought a bagel in my bag and was extremely grateful I did, Dean Latham and I had to hold hands for a bit because the photographer got held up, and I gained a beautiful sunburn on half of my forehead. All in all, it went just as I expected it to, and these strange little happenings contributed to an overall excellent experience. In the month or so leading up to yesterday morning, and especially this past week, there’s been a lot of time for reflection and looking back. I felt so much the weight of my experiences here, how they’ve shaped me, how much I have learned, and how much God has blessed me with as I stood on Keating steps waiting to receive my diploma. I definitely thought I was going to cry at some point yesterday. Or some point today. Or, most likely, when I was going to sleep and wasn’t at Fordham anymore. The weird thing is, I didn’t. It’s weird to leave, yes, and a real adjustment that I won’t be a max ten minute walk from some of the most important people in my life, but I’m not sad like I thought I’d be. Here’s why:
 
A couple of weeks ago (maybe?) I went to the last Keating Steps concert. It was great, and lovely, and obviously the music was fantastic, but so was the energy. Huddled in with everyone supporting their friends, and watching the security van totally approve of what was going on as it rolled on by to investigate, it was easy to feel the love of the Fordham community. Because I had tests and papers and things, I left before the concert was over. As I walked away, The Keating Steps continued playing, and everything was still very much in full swing. I could hear the singing, the clapping, the cheering so clearly as I left—even clearer than I could hear it when I was actually there, strangely enough. As music is wont to do, it made me think, because sometimes college is nothing if not cliche. What it made me think was this: sometimes walking away from something before it’s finished feels weird, or bad, or like you should have stayed, but walking away and hearing the music grow fainter and fainter just made me feel satisfied. Even when I got as far as Salice and couldn’t hear it anymore, I was pretty sure the music was still going. And I knew that even when that concert stopped, there’d always be someone else to play sooner or later. Soon, I thought, I’d be walking away from Fordham University while there’s still so much love and happiness being created here by people I care very much about. And yes, maybe I was (and still am) anxious about making the transition, navigating the changing relationships, and like…making money, instead of making me sad, this thought made me sentimental, grateful, proud, and hopeful. It still does, even now that graduation has happened.

I love our school, and all the singing, the clapping, the cheering—the beautiful music that is this community—will keep on playing for a long time after I go, and that knowledge will be in my heart, even if I go far away. It will live there like a little sun, and I will forever be brighter and warmer having spent my time at Fordham. Knowing what incredible music everyone is still making, both at Fordham and beyond it, after I’ve graduated only intensifies the feeling, only makes me more proud, and only makes me more full of love. I cannot thank this team enough for what you all have given me, and I cannot thank God enough for sending me to Fordham to meet you. I can’t wait to hear the music you’ll create, whether you’re still at Fordham or you graduated with me yesterday. Go Rams.
Love you guys,
Julianne
4 months ago
Fat Tuesday - Angela

 Today, I had a friend over for lunch – just some grilled cheeses and tomato soup. Not the most extravagant of Fat Tuesday meals, but the company was the important part, and something that I think is worth celebrating on Fat Tuesday – the privilege of friendship and companionship.

In considering and speaking about what I may give up for Lent this year, I have been thinking in less materialistic ways than usual – I have been thinking about the idea of emotional fasting, and wondering how such an endeavor could play a role in the self-reflection and preparation of Lent.  While I have had thoughts along these lines at other times, I think it is because of highly publicized events in the international sphere that these thoughts have resurfaced this Fat Tuesday.

Currently, it is uncertain just how alone those in Ukraine, bracing themselves for Russian invasion, will be. Will another nation come to their aid, or will they be left, severely outnumbered, to handle Russian forces themselves? Regardless of the political pros and cons for any country considering direct involvement in the region, the unfolding situation has caused me to really think about the emotional and spiritual joys that are rarely considered when I decide what to give up for Lent. From my limited understanding of Jesus’ forty days in the desert, his isolation was a necessary step in his preparations for performing public ministry.

I have many questions about why we give things up for Lent and have heard many different answers – to share in Jesus’ suffering, to show gratitude and humility for Jesus’ own sacrifice, to prepare our hearts for his resurrection – the list is a long one. And many times, I find others and myself picking things that are “bad” for us to give up, thus hoping to benefit ourselves as well. Sure I may love sugar, not going to the gym, sleeping in, getting seconds at my meals, etc. – but giving up these things during Lent may help me accomplish goals I already have – losing weight, being healthier, being more well rested. And I do not think there is anything wrong with benefitting from sacrifice. But is there some way in which these types of Lenten promises keep us from really understanding the sacrifice Jesus made, not only alone in the desert for forty days, but to climb to the cross and to take every else’s sins entirely onto his own shoulders?

It is difficult to put these thoughts into words, but as I look back on my Fat Tuesday lunch with my friend, I wonder if some form of Lenten promise regarding relationships with others would help me better understand Jesus’ real sacrifice, and the emotions that may be felt by those in many places around the world, both on a national scale like in Ukraine or North Korea, and on a personal scale, like those at Fordham (or anywhere) who feel they lack human connection in their lives. 

Would doing so be self-destructive – to say, for instance, that I will spend more evenings n self reflection than hanging out with friends? If so, is a little bit of self destruction or self sacrifice perhaps not a bad thing? Would it help me to be more ready for “public ministry,” or for being a true friend, after the 40 days are over, like it did for Jesus? Would it help me to know a form of sacrifice – real isolation from others – that he took on, and that many others have thrust upon them because of where they live?

We Cannot Do Everything - Clare

Recently I reflected on this poem with my Global Outreach team. The words really hit home for our team

and how we are going to attempt to approach our time of service abroad in Guatemala. Our team has been

talking more and more about how we can change our mindset from one of “We’re here to fix a problem in this

community,” to “We’re here to learn something from this community.” This poem altered the way I think about

service work, and I think that the idea of our role as the workers, planting “the seeds that one day will grow,” is

a beautiful way of embracing the limitations yet the incredible importance of service.

I particularly love the line, “We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this.” It is

not only applicable to doing service, but to our everyday lives. I personally have a hard time accepting the fact

that I cannot do everything, and it is hard for me to admit that I can’t do something. However in looking at my

limitations as bringing a sense of inner freedom rather than a sense of failure, I feel that I can give myself more

room to grow.

A Future Not Our Own (words attributed to Oscar Romero)

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.

beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction

do is complete, which is another way of

says all that could be said.

pastoral visit brings wholeness.

objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one

knowing that they hold future promise.

yeast that produces effects

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of

something, and to do it very well.

opportunity for the Lord’s

the

difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not

The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,

of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.

saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.

No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession

No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.

brings perfection, no

Nothing we

No statement

No set of goals and

day will grow. We water the seeds already planted

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide

far beyond our capabilities.

liberation in realizing this.

This enables us to do

a step along the way, an

It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,

grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is

messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

4 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Teach Me How to Trust My Heart - Alyssa

Hey team!  A member of my GO! team brought this to reflection last week, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  It’s a Lakota prayer:

Great Mystery, teach me how to trust my heart,

my mind, my intuition, my inner knowing, the senses of my body, the blessings of my sprit.

Teach me to trust these things

so that I may enter my Sacred Space

and love beyond my fear, and thus Walk in Balance

with the passing of each glorious sun.

Last weekend was amazing.  My GO! retreat was perfect.  I’d gone home for Dad’s birthday, spent time with my parents and BOTH my brothers (a rare occurrence now that Ben’s in college too), hung out with the guy I’m in a relationship with, played with my cats, had a Skype interview for JVC with people I immediately clicked with at a placement that I’m really pumped about.

And then, a weird, out-of-the-blue crisis hit.  Mom dropped me off at the train station on Monday so I could head back to Fordham for my weekly GO! Board meeting.  I sat down on the train expecting to feel excited for the meeting later that day. Instead, I started to cry.  I am not a public crier (the fact that I’m even writing this is evidence of how much I trust this community).  I was embarrassed by the fact that I was crying, and confused about why I was crying in the first place.

I thought back on my weekend—a weekend that had made me really happy—to look for answers.  I second-guessed relationships, involvement at Fordham, post-grad plans… I finally stopped thinking, started breathing, and just sat with God for the rest of the train ride, but I spent the rest of the day in a funk.

On Tuesday, a team member brought the Lakota Prayer for reflection.  In that reflection, I realized: I don’t trust myself.  In my prayer this week, I’ve figured out that my instincts are a lot more accurate than I let myself believe.  I psych myself out at the slimmest shadow of doubt—no, that boy doesn’t like you, no, that placement isn’t going to hire you, etc.; you’re seeing what you want, not what’s there—rather than putting my trust in my own God-given “inner knowing.” 

Again, I haven’t figured out where those tears came from last week, and I don’t trust myself.  But I’ve got a starting point now, and a Lakota prayer saved as a constant reminder on a sticky note on my laptop.  I have direction.

I hope that you all can find some insight in this prayer, that it speaks to each of you in whatever way you need it this week. 

And, ladies and gentlemen, my positive gut instinct about the JVC placement was correct.  I’M GOING TO CLEVELAND!

Much love to you all,

Alyssa

Weekly Reflection: Ubuntu - Mary Frances

Hi, everyone!  I hope everyone’s spring semester has been wonderful so far- I am missing all of you very much!

Here in South Africa, I am exposed to an extremely diverse community.  With 11 official languages and various tribes, this diversity is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  I have met men with multiple wives, students who have encountered witchcraft, and races I never even knew existed.  Being here has only confirmed that humans have the capacity to experience life in so many different ways.

Reflecting on this reminded me about the greatness of life and how it allows people to grow in completely different ways, which made me cherish all the beautiful and unique qualities that our retreat team brings to the table.  As opposed to attempting to conform to certain lifestyles to be perceived in certain ways, you embrace your you-ness.  In fact, you even search for ways, such as reflection and retreat, to further grow into yourselves.

Right now, I am sure it is overwhelming going through the team selection process.  I wish I could be more present full of it, but please know that I am thinking about you all and praying for you.  Just remember that there is a reason why you were put on the retreat team.  There is a reason why other people will be put on the retreat team, and other people won’t.  It is only part of the journey of getting to know yourself.  Keep on embracing your you-ness, and embracing other’s otherness as well!

This idea of celebrating yourself and what it means to be yourself in a community (in our case, the retreat team) I would like to share a Desmond Tutu quote about Ubuntu, the philosophy that my program is named after.  It is as followed: 

“Ubuntu […] speaks of the very essence of being human. [We] say […] “Hey, so-and-so has ubuntu.” Then you are generous, you are hospitable, you are friendly and caring and compassionate. You share what you have. It is to say, “My humanity is caught up, is inextricably bound up, in yours.” We belong in a bundle of life. We say, “A person is a person through other persons.”

[…] A person with ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, for he or she has a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed, or treated as if they were less than who they are.”

I hope this quote and reflection finds you well!  Thanks for reading :D 

Weekly Reflection: Beautiful Simplicity - Meg

Hi lovely people!

I want to share a little reflection for this week.
This has been an incredibly crazy week for me. After spring break, I I’ve had a big overhaul in my plans for after graduation and it really rattled my faith in God and his timing.  I’ve been drowning in applications and difficult money conversations as I plan my next steps, and this week I was struggling to find a balance and find peace.
At just the right moment, however, I saw this quote on facebook (it is from God’s perspective):
"Stop trying to work things out before their times have come.  Accept the limitations of living one day at a time.  When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda.  If it isn’t release it into My care and go on about today’s duties.  When you follow this practice, there will be a beautiful simplicity about your life: a time for everything, and everything in its time."
Sit with this quote and see how God wants to bring you life and freedom this week.  He is in a good mood :)
Love,
Meg 
Weekly Reflection: Christ Within Me - Tommy
Top o’ the evening to ya!
 
I apologize in advance that this is a VERY long reflection, but this is something that’s been on my mind all day today.
 
Technically this Thursday is the first day of spring. Technically. The “winter on steroids” of 2014 just will not seem to go down easily, but spring should be here very soon. The warmer weather and longer days of springtime always bring the beginning of spring cleaning at my house. After months of shoveling out and thawing out, it will soon be time to wash the cars, clean the yard, clean out the shed, power wash the house, and tackle the garage. (Oh boy the garage……..) Meanwhile the flowers pop up, the grass gets greener, the trees begin to bloom, and the birds return from their winter vacation down south. Springtime ushers in cleanup of the house and renewal of nature. Lent fits very well into this springtime context: Lent is a cleanup and renewal of our soul and our relationship with God. 
 
This Saturday I attended a Catholic men’s conference in New Jersey, where the theme of the day was “be not afraid.” Father Larry Richards, a speaker at the conference, told all of us who were in attendance very bluntly and very loudly, “DON’T BE A WIMP! Be a man who is not afraid to love and not afraid to pray!” In what was a very powerful talk, Father Larry repeatedly echoed a motto: ”No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.” Father Larry spoke very candidly about how impactful it would be to bookend every day with the Word of God by reading and praying with the Bible before we eat breakfast and before we go to sleep. I knew immediately that I definitely don’t read the Bible enough, so I decided to give Father Larry’s motto a shot.
 
This morning, I picked up my Bible and randomly opened up to the Book of Haggai. Immediately I thought, “The book ofwhat??? Hagrid? Hogwarts? Who the heck is Haggai? Is this even a book? Do I have the right Bible? What is this?” I felt pretty dopey that I had never heard of the Book of Haggai, and didn’t even know that this existed. I was hoping to open my Bible up to something interesting in a Gospel or maybe a good Psalm or two - but Haggai?! Come on! I reluctantly decided that maybe something was here that I needed to read, so I gave it a shot.
 
**A little background info that I learned about Haggai: This (very short) book takes place just after the Israelites returned from exile in Babylonia. The Israelites were feeling a bit down in the dumps after they went through miserable years in Babylonia and put up with all kinds of bologna from the annoying Samaritans. The Israelites had a pretty pessimistic, Eeyore-type attitude, and felt very unmotivated to start rebuilding God’s Temple in Jerusalem. That’s when the prophet Haggai comes in to tell the Israelites it’s time to wake up, snap out of it, and start working to rebuild God’s Temple.**
 
Have a look at Haggai 1. (Chapter 1 is very short, but especially focus on verses 2-6 and 14.)
 
 
I can totally relate to the Israelites here - classic procrastination: “The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.” Rebuilding the entire Temple is a very daunting task, so, naturally, people would be inclined to procrastinate. (At least there is some comfort in knowing that procrastination existed 2500 years before the days of Netflix!) But God speaks to the Israelites through the prophet Haggai to give them a wake-up call: “Are you really going to keep living with all these distractions as your top priorities while my house remains in ruins? I mean, think about it. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it. There’s something more that you’re missing.” Notice there’s something that all the ‘distractions’ that God lists here have in common - they are all essentials! Food, water, clothes, wages - man, the Old Testament God must be pretty harsh to be upset with the Israelites for using those things - I mean you need all of those to survive!! What the heck?! But God seems to be pretty insistent that none of those things really matter if the Israelites don’t rebuild God’s Temple first. God is hinting to the Israelites that none of those necessities should actually be their top priority because none of those things will ever be as fulfilling to the Israelites as rebuilding God’s Temple will be. The procrastinating Israelites would go through some difficult times before they finally realized that they really needed to rebuild God’s Temple. When the Israelites were at their lowest point, God reminded them that He is with them. That’s when they finally allowed themselves to be open to the Holy Spirit to rebuild God’s Temple.
 
SO… here’s something crazy that I reflected on after reading chapter 1 of Haggai. The “house” written in the passage is not just talking about the Temple of Jerusalem - it’s me, it’s you, it’s everyone! St. Paul tells us in Corinthians that we are all the “temples of the Holy Spirit” - we are God’s houses (literally, every time we receive Communion). God wasn’t just calling the Israelites to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem 2500 years ago; He’s calling to each one of us to “rebuild” our relationship with Him this Lent - today. We all have extremely important priorities in our lives - our families, friends, home, school, work, food, water, clothing, money, etc. - but none of those things will really bring us any kind of fulfillment if we are not actively working to build our relationship with God through each of those things. Like the Israelites, I so often forget so easily that now is the time to build my relationship with God - not just once a week during Sunday Mass, or a few times a semester on retreat - right now is the time to keep building my relationship with God. Haggai tells a story of keeping our priorities in order. It’s keeping - not abandoning - our priorities, but keeping our relationship with God at the top of the list. If what St. Ignatius says is true, and God really is in all things, then we can appreciate every aspect of our lives in such a way that they are not distractions, but rather, make us closer and stronger in our relationships with God. We can build this house this Lent by inviting Christ into every aspect of our lives: our families, friends, home, school, work, food, water, clothing, money, and of course, prayer. All we have to do is just open ourselves up to the Holy Spirit to work through us - something I struggle to do all the time. St. Patrick puts it beautifully:
"Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me. Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
Our relationship with God is a house, and many houses make the Kingdom of God. We can start building and rebuilding this kingdom this Lent by strengthening our own relationships with God - and it can all begin with some simple prayer.
 
I like Father Larry’s idea of “No Bible, no breakfast. No Bible, no bed.”  It sounded silly at first, but I’m going to stick with it. I invite you to try it out too!
 
 
I really salute you if you read all the way to the end, because I was DEFINITELY extremely long-winded. Sorry about that!! In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it would be fantastic to close this reflection with a song by a band from Ireland. So here is “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective Experiment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbdJXKqVgtg
 
Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and enjoy spring break!
Cheers,
Tommy
5 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Light, Darkness, and Seeing - Mike

Hi everyone! 

As some of you may know, one of my favorite books in the bible is the Book of Job. The themes of human suffering, wisdom, our relationship with God, and light and darkness really fascinate me. I think these themes are especially relevant during the season of Lent.

 To briefly summarize the Book of Job (you can skip this paragraph if you’ve read the Book of Job), Job is an upstanding man that loves God and is very blessed with a family, land, animals, etc. Ha-Satan then tells God that Job is only faithful because of all the things he has. So God allows Ha-Satan to take all Job has but his health and Job remains faithful. Ha-Satan then tells God that once he takes Job’s health Job will no longer be faithful. God then allows Ha-Satan to inflict sores and the like on Job and Job’s three friends and wife now come to him to tell him to repent. Job does not speak out against God but then starting in chapter 3 there is a sudden transition and Job curses the day he was born. Throughout the rest of the Book of Job, each of Job’s three friends speak to Job and tell him that they will teach him wisdom and that he should repent. After each friend speaks Job replies. At the end of the Book of Job, God finally answers Job, Job then responds to God, Job is humbled and satisfied, Job’s friends are humiliated because their wisdom was false, and Job is restored.

Light, Darkness, and Seeing

What I noticed most when I read the Book of Job again recently was the theme of light and darkness and seeing. Something that I can relate to at this time is how Job feels like God is distant from him. He says in Job 23:8-9, “If I go forward, he is not there: or backward, I cannot perceive him; on the left he hides, and I cannot behold him; I turn to the right, but I cannot see him.” At the same time however, Job feels that God will not leave him alone or take him out of the focus. In Job 7:17-19, he says, “What are human beings, that you make so much of them, that you set your mind on them, visit them every morning, test them every moment? Will you not look away from me for a while…?” I think in these parts Job deals with things that many people deal with today: Where is God in all of this and in my life? How can I find God working in my life when I feel like God is so distant? Why is there human suffering? Etc.

Job often plays with the idea of light and darkness in answering the so-called wisdom, a false wisdom that seems to exist still to this day, of his three friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar. Their wisdom consists mainly of looking to the past for wisdom, that bad occurrences or fortunes in one’s life are a sign that one has sinned against God, and that they can speak for God. Job shows that this is a false sense of wisdom and that it is unclear why bad things happen to good people and how the light is not so easily distinguishable from the darkness.

During Lent we often hear the idea that we are in darkness waiting for the light that comes when Christ rises on Easter. In Job17:12, Job questions the notion of how “the light…is near to the darkness.” I often feel, like Job, it is not easy to distinguish the light from the darkness in my own faith and in my own Lenten fasting and reflection. Rather, I feel I am mostly situated in the gray area, the shadow that exists between the dark, and the source of light. For me, at times it’s easier to see or experience the light of God, just like how a shadow can vanish or become smaller. While in other times there can be the complete darkness of feeling distant from God like the dark of night or where the shadow becomes much larger. Unlike Job’s friends beliefs, the light may not always seem near to darkness and the darkness may not always seem near to the light.

Some Questions for Reflection:

  • In your own relationship with God, is the light easily distinguishable from the darkness? How so? Why not?
  • What have been times when you have felt you were in the gray area or the shadows in your faith journey?
  • How does the theme of light and darkness play in your own Lenten fasting and reflection?

Sorry that was a bit long but I hope it may be fruitful to your own reflection. I have attached my attempt at a poem that I wrote about Job for my Old Testament class if you’d like to read it. I also attached this beautiful painting that comes from a series of paintings I love that depict scenes from the Book of Job. This specific scene depicts when Job is finally answered by God in chapter 38 through a whirlwind. 

Love,

Mike

“Job”

Blameless and upright

Job, Yahweh’s delight

Skin for skin

Ha-Satan’s plan for Job’s sin

Take, take, take, and take

Death becomes a rake

Animals, servants, and progeny fall

Nothing left but a man standing tall

Ha-Satan strikes once more

Job’s body inflicted by loathsome sore

Faithful he may still be

That is until chapter three

A wife and three friends that tell him to repent

Psalm 1 describes his signs as a life wickedly spent

Unhappy despite not following the four sinners’ imposition

Job’s frustration and stubbornness become his ammunition

Physical signs as a tell

Challenges to society’s notion of a grace that fell

An attempt to know Yahweh and how He acts

Society’s measures naïve tracts

Yahweh gives, Yahweh takes, blessed be Yahweh’s name

But who in this story of life is to blame?

Some say it’s all just a test

At the heart a larger story of love, life, and quest

image

5 months ago
Growing in Inner Freedom - Megan

If I had to pick a theme for my faith life and life in general for the past few months, this would be it. I have been going to God with a lot of questions about who I am and what is my role in my relationship with him.  In all of my relationships, I have been questioning whether or not I feel free. This has caused there to be a big shakeup with my relationships, with some rightfully falling away and other, new ones coming in. For a long time I’ve felt constrained in my relationships and in my ability to be myself in them. All my life I’ve struggled with the need to please everyone around me, and to not cause waves or make a mess. For me, this is an issue of freedom. 

This past year has been both the best and the most challenging year of my life, and it was this area—not feeling free in my relationships—that was challenged the most.  The year started with a beautiful little wake-up call I had about what it means to feel free. I started last year by going to Spain with a teaching program, where I would teach English to 2nd graders while taking education classes. While in Spain, I lived with a host family—a sixty year old woman named Pepa and her son Jose. 

Pepa is a typical Spanish mother—she devotes every hour of her day to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of her kids. Part of the host family agreement is that she would provide me with three meals a day, and do laundry and clean my room once a week. I was apprehensive the first few days as I tried to figure out what sort of relationship Pepa expected us to have. The first moment out of the taxi, Pepa declared that she would be my Spanish mom….but I wanted to see exactly what that meant.  I didn’t want to disrupt the way their family did life, or assume that I had a place with them. 

My second night there, after family dinner, Pepa brought me into the kitchen with her. This was already a big deal because Spanish moms typically do not let anyone, even their kids, in the kitchen.  But, I had seen that Pepa allowed her son in the kitchen and told me to do the same. She spent the next twenty minutes giving me a complete tour, explaining every appliance and every single food item in the pantry and fridge. She told me how to prepare my coffee in the morning, how to work the toaster, and where to find plates and the olive oil and utensils.

She told me to not worry about cleaning up, to leave my dishes in the sink. She told me to have as much coffee and as much food as I like. She asked me if there was anything special I liked, that I used to eat at home that would make me comfortable here.

Then, she took both my hands and said, “Megan, remember, you have freedom here.” Her words hit me pretty strongly, for a reason I couldn’t understand, and for the rest of the night I kept turning them over and over in my mind. Megan, you have freedom here.

From that day forward, day by day, I truly became her daughter, and she became my mother.  Any and all anxieties I had about being an imposition or making a mess or taking up space in her house disappeared. I stopped walking around constantly aware, with my ears perked, ready to pull out my best manners. I stopped sitting stick straight at the table and lounged on the couch like they did when we watched movies. I stopped trying to be the perfect house guest, and the moment I did that, I became the daughter she always wanted, AT HOME.  

As I thought more about it, this is what I realized. By saying that, “I had freedom there” Pepa was inviting me to act as a daughter in the house.  She was telling me that I had the same free reign that her own son did in her house. I was loved and welcome to be me.  She was inviting me to make a mess, to be real, to make my life here.

She was doing my laundry, cooking my food, cleaning up after me like she did with her own son. By saying that I had freedom there,  it went so much deeper than just the kitchen. She was saying, this is your home. You are free to act like it, to be comfortable and confident in your relationship to me. To ask me for things and approach me. You are free to act like a daughter, like one of my own. You have freedom here.

What she taught me is this: Freedom means being home, wherever I go. It is being invited to make a mess in someone’s “house.” To not have to be a perfect house guest in their life. It is the ability to move without constraint, without second-guessing if something is allowed or too messy or too myself or too “real.” 

This type of freedom speaks to my identity. It encourages me to lose the need to impress people, to lose the fear of taking up space and making waves and making a mess…of being fully alive. 

I think of Pepa, and then I think of God.  When have I come to Him thinking that I need to clean up my act? What is my role in my relationship with God? My role is to be a daughter, not a house guest.  My “space” is sitting on the couch with my feet up, and not standing in the doorway waiting to be invited in to sit down with him. It means to be at home. God is inviting me to make a mess, to be myself, to bring in my dirty laundry at all times of day, to let him feed me and provide for me. To relish in the feeling of being cared for, fussed over. I want to always feel at home, with no fear of being too messy or taking up too much space.

I want to feel at home. Our faith tells us that God is everywhere, all the time, and where He is, we are at home. Here on campus. Back with our families. After graduation, wherever I end up. I am home. In every area and every space and every moment of my life, I can feel at home, and I can feel free.

And when I grow in this inner freedom with God, then I can grow in it with my other relationships, and every day the fears of not being good enough, not being lovely enough, of taking up too much space, of making a mess, will fade away. In the Gospels, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms.” We each have a room in the house of God. In all of my relationships, there is room for me. Space to fill, to stretch out my legs and be myself. It’s taken me a while to find that space where I belong, but it’s the worth the search to be in the place where I find freedom.   

5 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Take Care of Yourself - Marc
Hey everyone!
So I don’t know about everyone else, but my schedule and workload really picked up quick over the last two weeks (although it is juuuust starting to quiet down).  Between midterms, papers, spring break planning, and retreat planning, I realized that I have not really been taking care of myself on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level.  Let me give you all an inside-look into the craziness that is Walsh 1306 (my apartment) to demonstrate my failings:
 
Over the course of our year living together, my apartment has developed a sign, the pointer finger raised to the sky, that once invoked, is a call to do approximately “one” of something, and depending on who gives the symbol, the meaning varies.  For example, if Dan walks into our living room with his finger raised, it typically means one round of Call of Duty Zombies, and for the most part, we will all drop what we are doing and play Xbox together. 
 
Mondays are my “easy” day, I only have one class in the afternoon, but that often means I spend the rest of the day doing homework for Tuesday, and this past Monday was no exception.  I had skipped my usual gym sesh that morning because I was feeling lazy, and once I got back from my class at 3:45, I almost immediately started writing. Fast- forward eight hours and my homework is done and all my brain wants to do is shut off and mindlessly surf Facebook or Twitter for the next of forever.  That is when Greg walks in to the living room; finger raised to the sky, which in this case means one episode of House of Cards.  There was no question as to how I would spend the next hour of my life…
 
As the final credits rolled, I found myself in a much happier and relaxed space than I usually do at the end of my day, and it was in that moment that I realized why: I took time out of my day to do something I actually enjoyed and it made a HUGE difference.  Reflecting back on last semester, I realized that that semester began to spiral downwards around the same time because when the workload increased, I immediately dropped the things that were not school work: going to the gym, pleasure reading, and most importantly, prayer.  I shut those things out of my life and let the stress of school work take over and dominate
 
So this is my wish/prayer for all of you: take at least an hour or two a day, doesn’t matter how busy you are, and do something you really and truly enjoy. Read a book, watch an episode of Friday Night Lights on Netflix, go for a run, grab coffee with a friend, whatever! If it’s fun, do it! You’ll be so surprised what a difference it makes!
 
Love,
Marc
6 months ago 6 months ago
Weekly Reflection - Love More, Do More, Be More: Erin

To say that the past month of my life has been a whirlwind would be an understatement at best. Since the moment that I drove onto campus onto campus January 13, life has been a mix of class, work, leading a GO project, being present to friends and their struggles, dealing with my own internal struggles, discerning a job for next year, and trying to find time to take care of myself and be healthy. Coming into 2014, I had a lot of goals. Last night I was talking to my roommate and she asked me if I was keeping up with my New Years Resolutions. I struggled to answer her. I couldn’t even remember half of the goals that I came up with. This is where this reflection came in handy. I opened up my journal to figure just what exactly I promised myself that I would achieve this year. This is what I wrote down:

1.     Start training for a half marathon

2.     Confront feelings when you have them; don’t bottle things up

3.     Be compassionate

4.     Be more organized

5.     Eat at Cosi less because it’s not good and it’s overpriced

In taking inventory of these things, I am both pleased and disappointed in my progress so far. Some of them resolutions I have taken VERY seriously and others I have let fall by the wayside, (I haven’t really stopped eating at Cosi.) After being rather hard on myself, I tried to shed a little more positivity on my life thus far in 2014.  I haven’t started training for the half marathon, but I have started running more. In terms of organization, my room is the messiest it has ever been, but I have been more organized about how I spend my time and whom I spent it with. In terms of compassion, I find myself getting frustrated with myself more than I get frustrated with other people which shows that compassion is a virtue that must be practiced internally as well as externally. Perhaps most importantly, I feel that I have truly become more self aware and more confident about why I feel what I feel. This reflection is not a pep rally urging you all to “go out and tell everyone how you feel” (even though I think that it is very important.) Instead, I urge you all to listen to the deepest desires of your heart and then figure out how to express those desires. Expressing these desires might mean different things for different people. For some, it might mean having some difficult and courageous conversations, for others it might be expressing themselves creatively through singing, writing, painting, etc. For others expressing these desires might mean making some hard choices about how to spend time in life giving, sustaining ways. I am a big believer that fulfillment is the culmination of a lot of small actions. Every choice we make has a consequence and brings us closer to or further away from our deepest desires, aka God. Every day, I am challenged to wake up and ask myself: “Does my work, do my friends, do my choices bring me closer to God, toward the person that He calls me to be?” There are often times when I have come to uncomfortable, painful answers that help me to revaluate my trajectory. Most importantly, this daily discernment has brought people into my life that hold me accountable for my choices and my feelings.. I ask all of you to take a moment in the next few days to think about the choices that you make every day, and which choices are bringing you closer to and which choices are bringing you farther away from the person that you want to be and the person that God wants you to be. I realized that God does not require that we succeed, but rather that we try. (Otherwise He would be VERY displeased with my resolutions.) Therefore, I was waking up every day thinking of my sin, my failure and my inadequacy when instead I should have been feeling challenged and excited to love more, do more, and be more for God. I will leave you all with one of my favorite quotes from Rumi:

"Find the real world, give it endlessly away, grow rich flinging gold to all who ask. Live at the empty heart of paradox. I’ll dance there with you—cheek to cheek."

I love you all,
Erin
6 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Peace - Julia

HI ALL!

I hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend!  And I hope it was restful, relaxing, and fun.
As we jump back into school mode, I bet you all (LIKE ME!) are feeling a bit stressed/overwhelmed as midterms near, so I’ll keep this short and sweet.
My hope for you all is that when you feel that stress creepin’ on, YOU WILL REMEMBER TO BE AT PEACE…

BE AT PEACE

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope that as they arise,

God, whose very own you are,

will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will carry you in his arms. 

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you today

will take care of you today and everyday.

He will either shield you from suffering,

or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace,

and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

—St. Francis de Sales

7 months ago
Weekly Reflection: Prayer - Nick

I hope that everyone has been enjoying the snow!!  

As I sat down to write this reflection, I realized that it had been the first time in a long while that I had taken the time for quiet contemplation and prayer. The past few weeks have been, in a word, overwhelming. Now that I’m approaching the end of sophomore year, I have to start thinking about study abroad and internships all while going to class, participating in various clubs and extracurriculars, and continuing my job in Campus Ministry. These are all good things that I am glad to be doing, but it sometimes feels like I’m drowning in a sea of applications and resumes, GO! meetings and a cappella rehearsals, essay drafts, textbook readings, and work hours.

I usually end up fitting everything in (occasionally I’ll forget something, e.g. a Praise and Worship reflection oops), but what I don’t often fit into my schedule is time for what I really need: prayer! Since I work twelve to thirteen hours a week in the Campus Ministry office in addition to leading retreats and helping out at daily and Sunday mass, it sometimes feels like outside prayer is just one more obligation on top of an already busy workload. I’m surrounded by religion and spirituality for most of my days- why do I need to take an extra five minutes to talk to God before I go to bed? I could be sleeping. Better yet, I could be rewatching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I mean, I’m sure God is also a big HIMYM fan, though I’m sure He too is disappointed by the final season.

Prayer can sometimes feel like an unnecessary addendum to your daily to-do list, one that can be easily checked off in the case of exhaustion. When you’re running around all day trying to fulfill all your responsibilities, it can be hard to take a few minutes to breathe, close your eyes, and have that conversation with God. One of my biggest sins is pride. I am often convinced that I can do anything and everything without asking for anyone’s help. As the kind of person who enjoys participating in as many things as possible, I am often overwhelmed, but I’ll consider it a sign of weakness to take those necessary five minutes to ask for God’s help by taking a breath of fresh prayer air. 

Tommy talked last week about New Years Resolutions. I’ve already failed at going to the gym everyday, but one of the resolutions I have that I am still hopeful for maintaining is admitting that I cannot do everything and remembering to breathe. It is not a sign of weakness to ask for God’s help nor is sending a quick prayer of thanksgiving up to heaven an unnecessary addendum. When prayer starts to seem like too much work, I need to rethink my schedule, myself, or how I’m praying. It’s important to take some time out of your busy day to calm down, be thankful, and just be.

ANYWAY, what I’m trying to say is remember to breathe!!! It’s the beginning of the end of the school year. Things are going to get a bit stressful, but don’t forget to pencil in some important you-time. Try to take a five-minute retreat everyday!

Here are some lovely songs that I like listening to when I relax:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isH1yy8I_dc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SU6KFnGF9M8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgn8Eoh9aSY

  

xoxo

Nick

Keep Calm and Drink Tea Reloaded theme by Polaraul
Tumblr Staff