Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The State of My Heart

Note to reader: This was originally written many months ago. I am just now publishing it because I feel I am at a place that I can do so. 

My heart is beating, my heart is beating so fast, I cannot rest, I cannot rest. The past nearly 48-hours, I have been with my community. This is the second time we have come together to explore our soon-to-be-future. Why? What? When? How? Perhaps now is the time to concentrate on the "Why?" and "What?" however, I am not going to focus my attention on any of these questions. This blog is going to focus on myself and where the state of my heart is at this time.

My aunt died in July. Mary Louise Hoelscher was a Sister of the Precious Blood (Dayton). I would be lying if I said I was not close to her.
Her death came very suddenly and I am just now, many months later, finding myself grieving. Normal? Yes. Yet despite my understanding of grief, I am still very unexpected by its late-coming. This afternoon, after being with the community all morning and afternoon, we were asked to spend some time with God and find ourselves in His presence. I was pacing all throughout the Mother House because I was not sure where I should go. My heart was racing, it was beating very fast and I felt very overwhelmed. I was not sure I would be able to find God in my current state. I decided to take in the brisk, 55-degree air. For the first time since her death and burial I went to visit my aunts grave.

 I do not know why all of a sudden I felt compelled to do so. Obviously, it was God's way of telling me something. At first I just stood there next to her dirt-pilled grave. I was disappointed to find that she does not have a headstone yet, but this really does not matter and it is besides the point. Then I sat down on the chilly pavement, at the foot of her grave. I was wearing nothing more than a t-shirt, basketball shorts, and of course low-cut, black socks and sandals. Just because!

In our hour and a half of quiet time we are being asked to first center ourselves and then recall the events over the past two days. We were to pay attention to the feelings and emotions that were rising up inside of us. Making a pilgrimage out to my aunts grave reminded me of many stories both happy ones and sad ones. Many regrets came flooding into my head too. Notably I am acknowledging my grief. I think back to the day she died, July 9, 2013. Then my memories fast-forwarded me two, maybe, three weeks,  to not even a month after her death I remember receiving my acceptance letter to the candididacy. If she is not still looking out for me, I do not know who is! I was so excited, so honored! I grabbed my phone and I searched for her name and I was about to dial, then I remembered that she was dead, and then it sunk in that she already knew. I was disappointed, I wanted to tell her, I wanted to hear her excitement on the other end. This is only possible in my imagination now.

After sitting in quiet much of the time and struggling for the confidence to talk to her at her gravesite, which has never been my thing, I was able to speak these words: have to keep caring for me. It is your job to have my back...

After I said this to her, it hit me like a ton-of-bricks. I knew the answer to one of the most pertinent questions we are being posed today. Or perhaps just an insight on how I feel about my vacation right now:

I am torn-my heart feels like it is being tugged into two different directions. I feel alive when I am with the sisters. I feel like I can be whomever I want to be or become with them. I still do not know who this person is exactly but who does at 24-years old? At the same time, I know that religious life is not all about the beautiful flowers and pretty butterflies. Religious life is not easy. One wise sister once told me,  "religious life is not easy, but it is worth it and I would not change it if I had to do it over again" (Un-named CPPS, Sister).

What is Jesus saying to me in this moment?

After my insight I left my aunts grave feeling unstoppable. I continued walking around the cemetery and looked for God in the way I know best through my camera. When I am on a God-Quest, particularly in nature, I may see something beautiful, or I may see something that moves me for some reason or another. I capture these things with my camera. My God-Quest's are a mode of theological reflection. 

My reflection begins immediately with my naked eye, before I point and shoot. My careful selection is important to me as a photographer. I look and wait for pristine images to be captured through my camera. Each image documented allows me to go back and reflect further on that particular God-Quest.  


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