When I entered into retreat in the Flinders Ranges on the 24th August, 2016 I had no idea that I would be taking a selfie with a kangaroo for the first time a few days later. And really, looking back at the past year; it has been full of kangaroo style random surprises since entering the Emmaus Journey // Novitiate in Sydney.
Challenges, surprises, tears, laughs and love in new forms. My aim through this reflection is to share a wee breakdown of the past year…
Imagine driving on the highway at 100km, and then adjusting to 30km - it’s a hard adjustment at first, you feel like you’re going so sllllllloooowwwww. Well, my first few months felt a bit like that. Adjusting from a fast paced secular life into a slow paced spiritual life required trust, faith and letting go.
Not having some of the freedoms I used to have has taken patience and trust to adapt - it has required letting go with simultaneous leaps of love. I'll admit that I do miss my friends and family. Not being able to meet my new niece and God-daughter has been especially tough. But hey, I knew with full consciousness that I said yes to this way of living, and knew it was part of the package. I accept that gratefully, but alas, I do have to acknowledge my humanness.
I have experienced new encounters by wearing the Josephite emblem ( http://www.designjane.com/blog/we-all-bleed-red ); more visibly identifying as Catholic was a big step. Encounters and relationships have changed; more letting go. But also i’ve made new connections; one door closes, another opens. God always always provides; hardly in ways I imagine, but the doors that God opens are always ineffable and full of awe, always full of love. Expect the unexpected.
Through discernment and prayer I know with full heart that the crosses and losses I encounter are blessings; they have strengthened my discernment and my big picture approach.
Adjusting to community living has been an eye opener too. Not only in living with others but also in a wider community sense. Sometimes community may seem a bit like Faulty Towers… I’m fairly certain that I am the character Manuel. Sometimes comical, sometimes tearful, sometimes misunderstanding, sometimes joyful. We all have good God hearts. We are all here for love. And that is beautiful. Sometimes like Manuel I find myself praying to God: "Qué?" (What?) and often while letting go:"Si" (Yes, OK)
In whatever community environment you’re in it’s clear to me that we all carry unique backgrounds and cultural differences. Every single person on this planet has a unique story that should be respected. We all bleed red. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt ( http://www.designjane.com/blog/alignment-recipe ).
Theological study has been something that I’m enjoying immensely.
The Kairos program ran from Feb - Jun 2016 (12 Novices from various congregations -http://www.designjane.com/blog/let_kairos_news ). We covered a variety of subjects from theological reflection to church history to human development. Kairos connections with my fellow journeyers are priceless.
I’m now studying theology via distance learning and hoping to work towards a qualification in theology. Loving the challenge, feeling energised by it.
For the first few months of my Emmaus Journey I travelled each week to the Villawood immigration detention centre. It was a privilege to have been able to go and meet some of the men there. I pray for them, and hold their stories sacred. The inspiring people that go every week are unsung heroes. Australia is in a dire state with it’s immigration policy. God, I hope it can change very very soon.
I’m now volunteering at Good Grief once and week and participated in there training course a few weeks ago ( https://goodgrief.org.au ).
Investigations into possible future ministry are in the works. And I’m headed to south Australia in Oct / Nov for my first ministry experience there. Hi-ho silver away…
Through abundant humanness I acknowledge my fears. One of my fears for years has been public speaking. For quite some time I have felt drawn to reading in Mass. My mind has said no to some things with fear, but through trust, guidance, listening and discernment I have said yes to love. Fear is not winning – i’m now able to read in Mass (although i’m very much a work in progress).
Through love and support from the Sisters the whisperings in my heart are being heard and lived out loud and clear. In your face fear!
WORK IN PROGRESS
This journey involves copious amounts of mystery and unknown pathways. But there is one thing for certain - I am a work in progress. Working on looking outside of myself, viewing another person's shoes. And always giving the benefit of the doubt first. The present is my present. Living in the now is a constant work in progress
These things help me to maintain a grateful heart, to enter into a blind embrace, to listen to the heartbeat and let go of fear, seeing the face of God in all interactions; especially the things I do not comprehend (there are a-lot!).
WHERE TO FROM HERE?
While walking the unknown path. One turn at a time I will continue to be my authentic bonkers self. Integrity and my relationship with God is always first and foremost.
“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” CS Lewis
I am part of a community, and feel very much at ‘home’ within the Josephite community and charism. Drawing and exercise continue to be part of my daily bread. I will keep them as part of my journey, no matter where the road leads. Stay tuned for updates on my concept for an adult colouring book. And I will also be walking the aussie camino in early October ( www.aussiecamino.org/wordpress/ ).
Continuing to be open to the unknown and adaptation to change certainly presents with Manuel type moments. I'm fairly certain I will never understand God's ways, they are not my own, and will happily keep opening to the unknown mystery that is God... "Qué?"
Acceptance, joy and blind embrace are my shoes for this journey. One day, one step, at a time. I hope you'll keep walking with me too...
"Remember we are but travellers here."
Mary MacKillop 1866
"No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Mt 9:16-17
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing?
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?
Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.
Today’s trouble is enough for today." Mt 6:25-34