New Perspective

20150828_160855As I mentioned in my last post, I recently moved to a new city. I came to this new place with an adventurous spirit. I decided that I would be free to go on adventures, as often as I have time. I wasn’t going to stop myself from exploring this new place just because I didn’t have friends surrounding me quite yet. And so that’s just what I have been doing. I’ve challenged myself to experience one beautiful thing a day – and to give myself a moment to allow that beautiful thing to move me. This means every day I’ve been either taking a moment to sit at the Lake, going for a short walk after work, visiting a scenic overlook, or taking a drive down a beautiful road. I thought this would be neat, but what I didn’t know was that this would change my perspective.

I would say that usually people do what I’ve been doing with others around them, whether it be a friend, a group of friends, family, or a spouse. But since I’ve been allowing myself to experience these things by myself (while always keeping in mind safety of course), it’s got me pondering.

The first few times I found a beautiful spot, I would instantly think, “Oh! I wish my family were here, I wish my household sisters were here!” I would then try to capture the perfect picture so that I could show them later and it would be like they had experienced it with me when they saw it. Almost so that I could “validate” the experience later by posting it on social media. And this was frustrating for me at first, because obviously a picture is not the same as real life. But the disappointment was really that I felt like even though I was in beautiful places, I couldn’t experience them fully because there was no one there to experience it with me. I was limiting how much I was letting the beauty affect me. 20150826_153426

Yes, we as human beings are social beings. And so it is natural for me to want to experience things with others. But I was missing a big piece of it.

In Adoration the other day, I was reflecting on how the Lord’s beauty really pierces my heart. How it’s not enough to look at Him, but you can’t help but be changed by just the smallest glance. As I gazed upon Him in the beautiful host, in an ornate monstrance, in a gorgeous church, it was striking me that His beauty is such that it pierces my very soul, it longs to enter into my very being, and often the only way I let that beauty in is for me to be pierced by Him. And that He uses everything to try to get through to us.

But then I saw clearly what the Lord was inviting me to.

20150826_155713By giving me these daily moments in beauty by myself, He is inviting me to allow this beauty to change me – if not to pierce me – at the very least to affect me. Because every moment I spend taking in something beautiful around me – brings me back to the Lord. Because I actually am not experiencing them alone at all – I am experiencing them in more community than I ever have before, as I experience them with the Lover of my soul, the Lord Himself. And so I’m not holding back. I may not at the moment have my dearest friends nearby to experience every little thing with, but I have the One who is Beauty itself. As I experience the Lake, the views, the little spots of beauty around me in this incredible city with only the Lord, I would dare to say that I am experiencing it more profoundly than I ever did, with Him, in Him, being brought back to Him, who created it all in the first place.

Oh how far the Lord’s ways are above my own.

Ponderings of a Rooted Soul

In the last few days my facebook feed has been flooded with photos and statuses of people returning to or coming for the first time to Franciscan University of Steubenville, the place I have called home for the past four years, a place that has formed me more than I can put into words, brought me closer to the Lord than I knew possible, and given me some of the most treasured relationships I have had in my life as of yet.

Everyone told me that the hardest part about graduating would be when the reality sets in that everyone is returning to campus and you’re not. And so I thought that right about now I would miss it. I thought I would have a hard time. I thought I would hate being anywhere but there. But somehow, I don’t.

One week ago, I moved to a new city to begin a new job at a new parish filled with people I have never met. And naturally, this has got me pondering.

As I ponder, I am realizing the reason I don’t miss it, the reason why my heart is at peace in all this newness. And that’s because what I loved most about that beautiful place, what I loved most about my college years is actually right here with me. And it’s not what, but it’s who. And it’s not just who, but it’s who I am rooted in.

Jesus Christ.

If it weren’t for my beloved Lord, Franciscan would not have had any impact on my life, those four years wouldn’t have meant much and I would probably not be much different now as when I first stepped foot on campus.

But during my time there, I came to know and love the Lord. It’s not that I hadn’t known Him at all before, but that He used that beautiful place to reach me in a deeper way. And that is the reason that although I am 400 miles from home in a new city basically on my own, that my heart can be at peace. Because the same Lord who was in my friends whom I grew to love so deeply at Franciscan, the same Lord who I visited in the Port whenever I had the chance, the same Lord I came to know in the passionate teaching of my professors, is the same Lord who is with me now, is teaching me how to serve, is teaching me how to love the youth, is teaching me how to be a youth minister, and is coming to me and winning my heart anew every day in the Holy Eucharist.

And this is making me realize even more that the Lord loves me enough that He gave me the chance to grow in such an intense way for four years at one of the best schools in the nation, but then loves me enough to call me out from that mountaintop and go out to meet His children who haven’t met Him yet. That the Lord trusts me enough to take part in His work of love. That the Lord desires to be united intimately with my soul every single day, at every single moment, even though I do a terrible job of loving Him, choosing Him, and thinking of Him. That I have a Lord who is the Bridegroom of my soul and while I came to know that reality while I was on that little campus on the hill, that that reality is being realized more every day here in my wilderness with Him.

I rejoice for my friends and all those students I don’t know who have the chance to grow at Franciscan this year, and I rejoice that I have the chance to grow in the newness and to continue to learn to love every day.

The Lord is good and HIs love is real, and He will never cease to invite us into His Heart.