Sunday, November 17, 2013
I began this year of blogging highlighting the fact that this was the first year in three years that my friends and I had not began the year with a retreat.
I have been fortunate enough, however, to end this liturgical year with two!
I was asked a couple of months ago to be the music minister on a retreat for the youth group that I used to be in charge of before I entered religious life. It was an honor to be asked and I knew that since I would just mainly be providing music, I would have some down time to reflect myself. Not only had I felt like I come full circle (since this was the youth group I had essentially helped create- see my post on this parish here) but I was humbled that it truly has been 10 years now since I had graduated from CUA and began ministering to high school students full time (with only a brief detour in mid 2007-2010).
I was grateful for the opportunity not only to reflect but also to minister. Since I have finished my Masters, I've had lots of down time which at first was very welcome after years of studying and writing and researching all whilst teaching full time. But now I'm looking for ways to use my gifts outside of just teaching again. So this music ministry gig was a welcome opportunity.
And I got to spend it praying HERE. A place I used to take my retreatants when I was the youth minister at this parish:
It was so breathtaking and peaceful and, like I said, I had some time to reflect on the year since I had not been truly able to while working on my Masters.
While I was there, I worked on my plans for the upcoming Kairos 3 retreat at school as well as taking some personal prayer time. I've mentioned several times in this blog about the power of these Kairos retreats. I believe the Holy Spirit allowed me to be open to the message He wanted for me personally and also that I was to share with the students on Kairos.
The Kairos 3 retreat was this past week and it was even more successful, perhaps, than the 2 before it. Word has gotten out that this retreats are really powerful if students are open to it, so the students come in ready to experience it fully. I was absolutely blown away by the student leaders and all the students on the retreat this time around. They reminded me how open and vulnerable teenagers really are and how they desire true love and God's friendship. So many of them just wanted to know how they can have a relationship with God. This, to me, was the sign of a retreat well done and the Spirit moving in our world which gives me hope!
I have been praying this year to be more vulnerable and open and God continues to show me through the youth I encounter the challenge that I need to accept. The challenge to let He and others in. It's true that I've already let God into my life and I believe that the teens look up to me because I've done this and they want to let God have control of their lives. But it is a constant challenge to re-open myself to others and God in new ways. And now that this chapter of my life- my moving out of living in a community and my Masters degree- are done, I need to be open to whatever happens next.
For the first time in 3-4 years I truly have no idea, no direction of where God wants me to go. But He helped me to reclaim and reaffirm my commitment to youth ministry through these latest retreats. He continues to bless and honor me by allowing me to be in the lives of young people and minister to them. I've decided I'm going to continue to do that full force as long as He continues to call me. To just invest in what He has called me to in the present moment, which continues to be youth ministry.
I was growing nervous these past couple of months over having so much free time and what God might be calling me to do next, but after these two retreats, I've reclaimed, like I said, the here and now and the present moment. I'm going to just keep doing what I'm doing and take every opportunity that comes my way to use my gifts in ministry to the best of my ability until He calls me to something else.
It's always been about the next thing for me. On the Kairos retreat we tell the students to participate, not anticipate. Anticipating was definitely making me a little crazy last month. And so I've decided to just participate in whatever God gives me in the here and now. It's kind of fun not having a clue about what is next (famous last words, I'm sure)!
I AM looking forward to, however, some Spiritual Direction this week as well as Thanksgiving break. Beyond that, I have no plans, no anticipations. Advent is going to be very interesting this year because I don't know yet what I'm "waiting" for!
Here's to the end of another liturgical year, anticipating Advent, and participating in the present!