By Katie Lacz
Where am I?
In broadening and looking outward.
And in a little confusion and fear.
That was the beginning of my journal entry at Re-Orientation, which is now unbelievably ten years ago. I always loved heading to the retreats during my JV year. It fits with my introverted personality, which often craves nothing more than some time to be quiet, reflect and journal.
It struck me as I looked back at my worn, red journal that the same feelings I articulated then are here today – in a different context. I am the mother of a two-year-old, and after nearly a year and a half of staying at home, I’m exploring new options of work. This of course, is accompanied by a broader set of ideas of what it means to be a good mother. I am looking outward to new ways of engaging with the world, and in doing so, feel some confusion and fear about our new political reality.
In other words, I’m engaging once again with the question of, what do I do next?
That was my main question at Re-O, too. It was the halfway point of the year and I wondered how to figure out my next steps. I felt deeply changed in ways that I didn’t anticipate, and I had an urgent sense that I really, really, needed to figure out what my life calling was, and fast.
The gift of Re-O is a gift that stays with me today: the realization that living into our vocation, or vocations, is a slow unfolding. It is not a destination that we arrive at one day and say, “I’m here!” It’s learning that God is thisclose to me all the time. God is pressed up lovingly against my shoulder, working with my deepest desires (not against them) to make the kingdom of God more present in the here and now.
To those of you still wondering what your vocation is: Me too. I’ve never been one of those people who knew exactly what they wanted to do with their lives. I have only had the step-by-step hunches of where I am drawn to. I move, sometimes haltingly, to the places where God might be inviting me, and where the invitation to love and be present beckons.
That has led me all over the place, literally and figuratively: to Denver, far away from my family in New York; to El Salvador to learn more about Oscar Romero; to Berkeley, CA to study theology; back to Colorado to work for …gasp, a different post-graduate volunteer program, the Colorado Vincentian Volunteers. It led me from my early assumptions that I would pursue my journalism career post-JVC, to jumping into an exploration of campus ministry and a deeper dive into faith and justice work.
For me, vocation has meant trusting, as Thomas Merton says, that the desire to please God does, in fact, please God. It has also meant embracing an expansive notion of the concept of vocation. I can acknowledge that while I have a primary vocation as a spouse and parent right now, there are other vocations that I have lived and will live out in the future. God calls us in the constantly changing contexts of our lives. Vocation is not a box, but rather a dance floor where we can move in rhythm with the Holy One.
While at Re-O ten years ago, I had a moment where I felt that I needed to get outside immediately, away from the confines of the retreat house and into the winter cold. Once outside, I walked to a bench in a circle of pine trees and sat. In the stillness, in the quiet, I had a sense of God inviting me to notice the trees and the nearby creek. The trees didn’t rush in their blooming. They lived in the peace of their current barrenness, with certainty that growth would come in due time. The creek didn’t force itself down a different path, but let itself be guided by the riverbed. It accepted the rocks and the tree roots as part of the path it traveled down.
It was a small moment of re-orientation: from rush to stillness, from impatience to release, from anxiety to peace. In that moment, I realized that we cannot rush the growth that will come; we must work with the impediments that inevitably get placed in our way. Remembering this is an ongoing process, and living it is a challenge. But it is one we do in the graced gift of community, and in the beloved embrace of God.
ARE YOU SEARCHING FOR YOUR VOCATION
AND LOOKING FOR A YEAR OR MORE TO DISCERN FURTHER?
Katie served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2006. She holds a BA in Journalism from Ithaca College, and a Masters of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She currently lives in Colorado with their family. Katie also maintains her own blog at Pure Buttermilk.