As I was walking around the Jesuit Spiritual Center the other day, I took notice of the trees on the property in a more profound way. I always loved the trees the Good Lord fastened here. We have wide, tall trees with deep, healthy roots. It is truly a marvel that such a small seed grows into something so magnificent and expansive.
Let me start off by saying, “this ain’t my first rodeo.”
However, if it were an actual rodeo, then it would be my first.
This isn’t to say my time here hasn’t been like a rodeo. Between Roping (materials), wrestling (tough questions), riding (to near and far campuses), and corralling (large and small group activities), I shouldn’t be surprised to find myself tired at the end of each day. There is a comfort to all this, you don’t go to a rodeo, let alone participate in one, if it ain’t something you love. Recall, “this ain’t my first rodeo,” so there’s gotta be something to it that keeps bringing me back.
I live with the rest of the interns in an old mansion on the Spiritual Center campus known tersely as the Rock House. It was the original structure built on the land here by Dr. William Irwin and his wife Mary Louise Orr before the Society of Jesus bought and reopened the space as a retreat center. For decades, the house was a Jesuit residency, forcing institutional additions to the interior like fire-doors and dorm-style living quarters. Before the four of us moved in, significant renovations had to be made to the building to make it more habitable after years of being largely vacant. Central air, new windows, fresh paint, and refinished flooring were all added to the house this past summer.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3: 22-3)
A month ago, I was packing my bags, saying goodbye to family, and preparing to move to Milford to begin working on the youth ministry team at the Jesuit Spiritual Center. After a challenging senior year and a restless summer of job searching, I started to question and doubt God’s plan for my life. I recognized the desire on my heart to serve the Lord and lead people closer to Christ, but none of the positions I applied for felt like the right fit for me.
These past several months, the Rock House has experienced some big changes to morph into what it is to become for a new chapter in its history. This process happened through various individuals working together: gathering paper-work, making phones calls, collaborating in meetings, and praying for the Lord’s Will to be done. Mounting new windows, painting the siding and walls, installing updated air-conditioning units, putting in light fixtures, and fixing anything in disrepair. Cleaning fireplaces, organizing kitchen tools, weeding and mulching the garden, dusting blinds and book shelves, polishing furniture, washing dishes, mopping floors, and finally, adding the touches that make a large house feel more like a welcoming home.
Life is many things, and if you asked me to name one of them, I would say it is like an ocean. In respects towards grandeur, life and the ocean are one in the same. Yet I would draw this comparison mostly because we, like the great navigators before, venture forth from familiar coastlines into often terrifying unknowns. Sometimes we sail as a part of great armadas; other times alone in our humble vessels. The journey is ours to make, and we must be wise in the undertaking. After all an ocean can not only be a difficult place, but a mercilessly unforgiving one.