Friday, July 6, 2012

As I sit in my cell of a room (for which I'm very grateful, by the way), as the thermometer refuses to yield a digit in the 10's place lower than "8", as the humidity is undoubtedly horribly high, I am reminded of my time in Lima in summers. There was less need for sleep, which was good, because sleep was hard to come by in such heat. There was less need for food (generally), which was also good due to the fact that I wasn't able to do much most of the day.

One could be sweating going into the shower, sweat during the coldest shower the water pump could muster, and sweat anew as one stepped into new garb. Walking out of Ciudad was always such a transition. From green and brown to pretty much brown, from a bit of shade to nothing, from the smell of practically nothing (or perhaps the grass on cooler nights) to the smell of dust and exhaust and urine and trash and hot sick...and I miss both worlds. I miss the sanctuary that Ciudad offered from San Juan and Lima in general, and I miss the respite that Lima afforded me from having to be responsible for the chaos that life provided in caring for 20 or so teenagers. Some days I miss it dearly. Many of those days are days I have to walk to the grocery store and don't run into a single familiar face or don't have a conversation with a vendor that lasts more than 2 minutes. My wallet also misses Lima on those days, honestly.
Even in the chaos of Lima, even in the strangely regimented schedule of Ciudad (i.e., they had a schedule and were fairly good about keeping to it), both of which sometimes if not often served as sources of frustration, life moved at a slower pace. It was not necessarily more deliberate. It was not necessarily the best way to live. However, it was a beautiful kind of drifting pace. The craziest day was certainly stressful, but there was a legitimate release of tension in my shoulders after it was done. I breathed deeper more naturally and more often despite the terrible air quality.

And then there were the trips beyond Lima to the ponderous hills of Huánuco, the pockets of paradise in Pachacamac, the glorious sillar buildings and tropical fruits and canyons of Arequipa, the soaring heights and greenery of Cajamarca, the beautiful isolation being near Huascarán in Pueblo Libre in Ancash, the fun retreat house in San Bartolo, the neat shore of Trujillo, the less touristy shore of Chiclayo...

Just like there are songs that remind us of certain times in our life, like that summer anthem or the "theme" of a couple's beginnings, there are some songs that just immediately remind me of my time in Peru. To hear the insistent but patient beat of certain Latin music, to hear Andean instrumental music, is to serenade me. To play them and understand their beauty after hearing me rant about these places for hours and to come to a better understanding of my experience and what it meant and means to me is to win my heart, possibly.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Breaking for a bit

I find it harder and harder to write here. I think of Peru often, attempt recipes every once in a while, sometimes succeeding, other times failing catastrophically.

Much of what's happening now is of an interior nature. There's academic formation, field placement, community-based growth both in spiritual and academic and professional areas, feeling the subtle transition to being more adult and responsible figuring more prominently into my life and being okay with it.

I know I haven't been incredibly consistent with my writings the past 8 months or so, but I might be taking a break. It probably won't be forever, but it's tough at the moment for me to find words to put here.

A blessed spring to all.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bringing a sword

Since starting in my graduate program, I have had to wrestle with what kind of "health," what kind of "balance," what kind of "fulfillment" I'm seeking. This is something for which I'm very grateful. I wish I could be more grateful by not running from it, but I'm a weak person and it's a tough subject. I've had to wrestle with the question of how much I let "false moderation" interfere with authentic witness, much in the same way that I let false modesty interfere with a true self-knowledge.

See, the problem that I keep running into as I ponder these things is that I have ME as the ultimate end in most of my formulations. I've been alive about a quarter of a century, and while I am sure to have many more reminders in the future, I've received many a message informing me that I won't live forever. Heck, people are starting to believe that I'm 24! What is the world coming to?! Minor tangent aside, I'm not the center of the universe. It sounds so easy to say, but fighting the temptation to put my world back into a framework of everything catering to me and what's good for me as I see it has been, continues to be, and will be a full-time job.

I certainly can't speak for everybody, but in my experience, when I start appropriating some pop-psychological vaguery and apply it to my spiritual life without discernment about hermeneutic and translation, trouble ensues. Too often a Christian-based retreat has tried to teach me that I'm good, lovable, great, and grand simply because I exist. This statement requires some qualification, because if the implication is that I exist and continue to be of luck or health, that my mode of being is itself the absolute greatest good, then we've got a Cult of Self going on. If the qualification is made that to be is to be good because being comes from God, the ultimate good, there's not so much idolatry going on. I struggled for a while with the notion that valuing myself because of God rather than valuing myself for myself because I felt that this love by association seemed to downgrade my value. I don't think I ever put it into those exact words, but mostly because I knew that I just didn't like having my place at my universe's center taken over by somebody else.

It's a chicken-egg argument when it comes to my self-centered tendencies appropriating neutral terms and words and concepts for its own destructive tendencies or if the ideas behind some of the terms actually promulgate an egocentrism of sorts. In any event, I find myself hiding behind the shield of "prudence" or "health" or "balance" so often when it comes to evading charitable things.

I know that there is a genuine virtue of prudence, and it has to do with the means and the timing and circumstances for bringing out justice. It has a valid place in Christian living. The virtue of preserving one's life and health for the sake of others or for the sake of living according to the vocation an individual is called is clearly not to be condemned in se. Insofar as one must know one's own finiteness and therefor accept limitations in order to best serve, love, etc., striking a balance is something a Christian is called to do.

The thing I forget too often, though it is humiliating to confess, is that one must never be moderate in one's love of God and neighbor. Without that focus, the Cult of Self comes into style, and I become existentially unhappy and discontent, for I have no certain future (save death) and my present unravels before my eyes in light of eventual eternity without any other guiding light.

Matthew's version of the Gospel is rife with discussion about the life of discipleship being tough: the Beatitudes to the other teachings and parables of the Sermon on the Mount to the Passion..."Do not think I have come to bring peace; rather, I have come to bring a sword."
We love thinking of the mustard seed the way that Luke's account portrays it: faith of that size can lift mountains. In Matthew, we see it take on a different angle. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed planted in a field. Mustard was known as the scourge of the farmer in the near-east. It's a weed. It's invasive, hard to get rid of, has tons of minuscule seeds, and eventually birds nestle in it, which means that whatever food manages to grow in the field is probably gonna get et...provided the birds don't eat the seed first. The kingdom of God takes over, both in our spiritual lives and in the world at large. It's impossible to hide completely or eradicate, for it is written on our hearts and it can't help but shout out to us.

While many times Matthew's Gospel reading-times have been times of thinking, "Shoot, I am SO far away from what I should be," and while I still have the feeling that maybe this all seems so uncomfortable or wrong because I'm so far off-target, there's something quite comforting to a mild narcissist like me: He's with me to the end of the age. The one who comes with a sword to perfect the Law and cause division will not leave those in the world, not even me. So when I try to have a balanced life that's all prudent and healthy but lacking in that spirit of self-giving for another's best interest-- the truest indicator of love--and life understandably rings hollow and dull, I can look to Jesus and pray that He deliver me from myself, that I may find God instead, and then find the proper place for a dust-speck like me in the pattern of God's design, that I might love God and neighbor more. That prayer hits a special note in contemplating the Passion and Death Jesus underwent.

That's all I got. The genuine voice of prudence is telling me that I need to cut my losses and sleep! Blessed Triduum to all.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pulling Some Strands Together

I was talking with my grandma on the phone the other day and almost used the word "saccharine". I haven't been able to unconsciously bring fancy vocabulary words into everyday conversation in a while. This doesn't mean I ever stopped sounding stilted or pretentious; I'm pretty sure that'll be a thorn in my side for a long while. I joked for a while after coming back that I took the GRE at a great time, because I got a decent score and then traded all that command of the English language in for a greater Spanish share. So it was a shock and disconcerting to catch myself using an uncommon "fancy" word. I guess I had a mini-identity crisis. I mean, really mini. I was distressed and uneasy for about 2 hours, and it was comfortably distant from my mind.

I bring it up because while "using big words" was something more characteristic of me pre-Peru, it's not one of the things that indicates that I'm not being loyal to living out my experience in Peru. Duh, perhaps. One of the things that happened in Peru was a realization that I was not a good person because I used big words or was good at math or reflections or because I graduated with honors. My inherent dignity as a human person does not have its dignity based on my accomplishments. Thank goodness, too. That doesn't mean that I should avoid or shirk whatever share of intelligence I've been given, but it certainly does put it in the correct framework and gives me a less myopic vision of myself and the world.

Speaking of frameworks, I was perusing some old things I've written and committed to the vast waste of the blogosphere. I was filled with such vocational angst! I wouldn't say that I've figured out what I'm going to do with my life, but the question consumed me so (and I was so impatient!) a couple of years ago. I was so focused on it. It was perpetually something on my "To Do" List, like if I put in a certain number of prayer hours, I would earn my Life Vocation Badge. I doubt I would say that's what I was doing at the time. I was afraid of being called to the priesthood, couldn't understand meaningful differences between them that didn't sound like generic sales pitches or trite theological platitude. Maybe I'm finally taking theology classes that can address these things in-depth like the School of Campus Ministry Theology never could (not to knock CM, because it taught me some very valuable things!). I think it has to do with me, though. I think that realizing that I can't pigeonhole God, that the world is oh-so-much bigger than my concerns and I are, and the nonverbal realization that I have a vocation to be before any other life vocation comes into the picture, gives me the freedom to actually discern.

This brings me to the final thought. Lent. We're in it! The third week is already here. I think about Lent in conjunction with these other things because of the end, the purpose of it. It's a time of solemn preparation anticipating the entrance into the crux of the historical event at the heart of the Christian faith. Yes, event. In Catholic Tradition, the Liturgy of the Triduum is one continuous celebration from Holy thursday to Easter Sunday. It's all the Paschal Mystery. But that's not what I'm looking at here.

Giving stuff up or doing extra stuff for Lent may seem like pointless adventures in asceticism, or a way of showing that Jesus came down and suffered and died because we sucked at life and we recognize in a self-kicking way, "Shoot, I suck at life!"

"Ascesis" means "training." Rather than simply impose a Lenten fast or practice for the heck of it, the important question to ask is, "Training for what?" In my experience, hopefully hinted at in the previous strands of thought, the traditional trifecta of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving point the way toward that training. Prayer seems pretty straightforward: right relationship with God. That's a heck of a statement, though. Fasting might be trickier, even Pelagian ("I earn grace points so I can buy a Salvation crown!") if considered incorrectly. When I have fasted, I truly have had those moments of craving. I once made the mistake of going on a detox (non Lenten) and two days in was having vivid and enticing daydreams about broccoli salad. At the same time, though, I felt a strange focus. That's about the best I can do: I was afforded a clarity of mind and spirit, more able to appreciate that we don't live on bread alone, or broccoli, for that matter. Fasting pulled me into an appreciation of what I was made for more than food or workouts or getting buff, namely, God and human relationships. I gain a window into the lives of those who don't always get food whenever they want. I become more aware of the framework in which I live.
I turn back to prayer, able to talk to God with a little more to say, willing and disposed to what God has to say. I also turn toward others, the tiniest bit more aware that people outside of my immediate experience suffer, and also aware that we're meant to be in communion with each other and God. Thus I give what I can monetarily to help alleviate the injustices others suffer, but also am aware that my two most jealously guarded possessions are my time and attention, and knowing how much I both crave and need it from others to flourish, give it to them, for my flourishing is intimately connected to theirs. And more and more I abstain from what keeps me mired in myself, unplugging it so that I can be more keenly aware of the true framework in which I work, i.e., God's universe. Maybe I can plug it back in after I undergo the training to more properly see. Maybe not.
But if you're floundering for an answer to the question "Why?" or "For What?" in your Lenten observances, I offer you this explanation for the ascesis, abstract as it may seem. You're collaborating in the Spirit's training your eyes to see with the eyes of faith, disposed to the Spirit showing you a deeper truth of things than what is immediately evident. You're letting the Spirit train your mind so that you might reach toward God's outstretched hand and others rather than turning in on yourself. Your training is one of getting plugged into the framework of God's boundless and gratuitous love, free from the obligation of being your own savior, earning your worth, etc. You're being docile to the Spirit working in your heart, that more and more you may truly recognize Christ as he enters your life both regally and humbly and sing with the believers in Jerusalem, the angels, and all the more genuinely every time you're at Mass and sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of hosts! Heaven and Earth are full of your glory! Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Toward a Language of Analogous Experience...and toward patience and charity

I've been back in the States for a little over a year. This time last year, I still had facial hair and a ponytail. I was starting up work at an office (for good or for ill), I was struggling in my getting used to things being in English, to not having personal space being invaded, to having good seasonal fruit and nixing tropical ones from my diet. I could keep that list going for quite a long while.
There are a good many reasons that re-entry poses some legitimate challenges for people coming home after a lengthy time. The easiest way to talk about it is to compare it with grieving. I mean, there is an authentic portion of the re-entry experience that IS, in fact, grieving the loss of a way of life, a community, a frame of reference. I don't want to minimize that. In a way, I DID minimize it when I came back. I think that I had some major blessings that helped me deal with it in a healthy way, but the way I went about my re-entry would by no means be a how-to guide. But that's not exactly here, nor is it exactly there. I use the comparison to grieving not only because of the real part of the experience that involves grief; I use it because of the need for expression.

In both psychology and theology, several people who look at suffering will arrive at the conclusion that a necessary part of suffering--if it is to be a vessel toward deeper understanding and living--is voicing the hurt, making the ache known, having the ability and means to articulate in word and in deed what's going on. Job is said to have spoken well of God at the end of it all, and he was sarcastic to God, questioned what was going on, insisted on bringing a retributive God to trial. Jeremiah seeks to express the pain he feels at being a harbinger of doom to the city and Temple and people that he loves without any ability to serve as a mediator, and he goes to such radical extremes as to talk about being raped, seduced, and other very graphic things. Chopin's Etude in C# Minor (Revolutionary), Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, many of Beethoven's later works, major works of art and dances all serve the purpose of expressing the anguish, the anger, the "why?!" that no trite platitude will bandage, that no amount of problem-solving can magically make go away.
One of the great challenges in coming back to the states is finding a language; it sometimes feels like one actually must wring a mode of conversation, a frame of reference into existence ex nihilo, because those around us many times lack the means and/or awareness to understand that no monosyllabic or even one-paragraph answer will summarize the question "how was it?", as the question both asks far too much and far too little. There are authentic struggles with missing people, weather, food, and ways of life, but in my experience, even in traveling across the country or being in a community of a different faith, but ESPECIALLY coming from back from abroad and having that experience forever shaping me hereafter, the most crushing feeling can be that when living my story, I am met with blank face at best and disparaging judgment at worst. In a word, being grossly unable to connect by virtue of what has made me who I am and continues to form me.
My last entry was more rambling than usual, but I was experimenting in finding a way to bring some portion of the framework of my youth and high school years to people who may never be able to experience Oregon's nature, and who even if they do probably won't understand what ways I'm connected to it. I will never be able to bring people fully into my world. I'd like to think that gaining some sense memories, like the smells of San Juan de Miraflores or the strange noises the various species of pigeons made or experiencing the difference in personal space, would allow people enough of a window to have the tools to build that language of analogous experience. That's not going to happen. But I can write. I can talk. You can read, you can listen. You can see when my eyes glaze over. I can make an effort to see when you're looking quizzically at me, and then remember to be patient and remember that my frame of reference is clearly distinct from others' on some levels.
This is hardly something I've perfected. I so often ascribe to the camp of wanting people's problems or suffering to move directly to the "solve it stage". I'm guilty of that to the point of passing through being naïve and moving into blatant and selfish uncharitable behavior. I'm also guilty of not remembering that people's lack of understanding more often than not comes from simply never having been pointed toward or invited into the process of crafting either the language of analogous experience OR the language of receptivity (which is often far more available and also invaluable). Patience and charity, curiosity and kindness are necessary for all.
I guess I bring this up because I was just at a welcome back party for CapCorp Midwest's international volunteers. I felt my own experience welling up, I will strive to be a person of support and understanding for them as they continue to integrate their lived experiences, and I acknowledge my own need to be more vocal in my current community. I write this because I am more acutely aware than ever that there is risk of judgment in searching to find a way to convey and express oneself. Heck, Job spoke rightly of God, but confesses to speaking without knowledge at the end all the same. But that risk must be taken.

A year after the fact, I want to thank those in CapCorps: past, present, and future, stateside and abroad, collaborators, facilitators, benefactors, coordinators, etc. All of you. Thanks for reminding to continue along the journey and giving tools that I may not only be understood but also understand. Thanks for offering and continuing to offer me the opportunity to enter into a space where I can speak, listen, and be. God's invitation to venture more deeply into what it means to be fully alive has been made present in an incredibly significant way through your efforts, support, love, and prayers.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I come from a suburb with beauty all its own. It's the kind of beauty that somebody who'd sneer at them just for being suburbs might not be willing to see. But my heart does not lie in the tame and quiet emerald green or the summer evening's mimosa fragrance washing over the neighborhood's inhabitants.
Rather, my heart lies just to the east, where the waterfalls and cataracts, the turbulent waters cascade down hills and cliff faces and plummet downward into black and white pools that laughingly skip along to the silently surging and giant vessel of the Columbia River.
This doesn't happen in a vacuum or in some deserted place of desolation. The misty tendrils of water careening down the cliff faces paint mosses and lichens over everything in sight, the seeds and spores bathing in droplets that float to the ground. Trees soar upward and plunge their roots deep, stretching to touch the sky and seize the ground, tapping into the pools below the rushing waters and quenching their gargantuan thirst. Ivy, that ubiquitous green parasite, has less a hold on the trees flourishing near the Gorge's veins (like a watercolor's bleeding) than in those of other stately forests. The trunks here are either bare or fully decked with mossy green beards that drip and sag with moisture as I imagine Vikings' beards did when on the sea or when after taking a particularly long drink of ale.
In the summertime the falls are a sanctuary from the heat, for even in Oregon there are days when the sun looks down without mercy and the pines and firs beckon us to come under their shade with boughs outstretched and their sweet, sweet, almost-blackberry smell. But that scent is often lost in the scene's clamor to overwhelm every sense, for the cool moisture of the air brings its own smell, and all that is green exudes the collective smell of green and life, not assaulting like grass clippings, but a prudent flaunt (if you will). The rocks and the dirt bring their own aged scent of earth and mineral.
I live west of this, in a land uniquely beautiful (as I've hinted at above), but a 30 minute drive acts as a true agent of change. Going just slightly east, out of dense civilization and into this fertile stretch, I drive past the airport, a reminder that though I'm not traveling by plane I nevertheless am making a departure into something distinct and beautiful. The trees gripping the right hand landscape all of a sudden come to the fore as a sprawling expanse of rolling evergreens, the majestic Mount Hood towering in the background and acting as both a gatekeeper and center of this system. It seems to welcome in a voice beyond vocal articulation with a confidence that those who enter for the first time will be in sufficient awe that they need no warning to guard this treasure they are encountering.
Coming in from the East is its own transition: from a rugged and arid landscape into the booming and crowded abundance of emerald sheen and azure sky, the water dancing in the sunlight with Mount Hood looming into view in grand style. I have wondered if this is a small indication of Creation kneeling before God, rejoicing as He jubilantly passes to the sea. Regardless, it is this passage that has joyously welcomed me home both by air and by land, and my heart cannot but sing upon seeing it anew, for a part of me has never left. A part of me wanders and roves through the lush green and swims in the frigid tributaries and sings and claps its hands as the rain descends or the sun's golden rays tease the forest's branches.
I would weep and mourn and rightly rage if that part of me could no longer find residence among the pines, if all were hewed down and the streams dried up and Mount Hood stripped of its snowy gown. I would rage at those who had turned a place of celebration into a truer wasteland than the desert to the East, for one exists by nature and the other is a human artifact. The nation jokes and jibes the unclean nut jobs who cling to trees and break chainsaws and meticulously recycle, right and wrong in their derision. IT is not the highest good, it is perhaps disordered, the region in unChurched, aching sorely for something deeper than a superficial pantheism and long jaunts in nature. But those who only see utility, who see buildings or progress or waste disposal or dispensable and unimportant crude matter rather than the treasure before them surely have a hard glint in their soul and do not know created beauty. I despair of ever being truly heard by them.
I have been lonely among friends, even in Portland, and I bemoan that when a part of me can rejoice for being home, another laments for having nothing of community or mutual understanding or affirmation or even like-mindedness. I can't talk about virginity as a source of pride and natural status for my state of life without defensiveness and judgment or simple lack of understanding. I am alone in my church, in my mid-20's with no brothers of the same age to embrace. I am constantly thirsting as I wander a city of beauty that so tragically will never adequately embrace the outpouring of natural majesty given to it because God is confined to the crazies' and the sillies' households or else seen as somebody who says, "Use this however the hell you want," leaving protection of this beauty a matter of preference rather than human vocation.
But despite the pains and woes it gives, I cannot but love it, for there I grew and there I have wondered and wandered. There I have seen the explosive beauty in the land of waterfalls. In the city I have spent a day drinking in a hundred perfumes of roses infinitely more alluring, appealing, and intoxicating than any concoction that Paris designers or Antonio Banderas or whatever is popular these days even if their brains were working at 100% capacity. There I've felt wind slide past my face in a caress to tell me that rain--and Spring--are nigh. It's there that a thirst for justice was planted in me and it is there that I return time and again when I need a reminder of God's goodness, whether in memory or in physical presence.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Finding Beauty

The last month has been an interesting one. I've had a number of incredible blessings. One very prominent one is that of community: upon returning from Thanksgiving, things got taken up a notch. This is not to say that what was there before wasn't good, because it certainly was. However, I knew there was and know that there definitely still is a long way to go, and to feel the intensity and closeness grow a bit was and is...well, lovely. Definitely made the last weeks of school far easier to manage in terms of motivation (or lack thereof and countering said affliction), enjoyment, and more fun to celebrate after the fact.

Then came home: plenty busy and crazy, but still such a blessing. From the basic and silly things like seeing familiar landmarks, idiotic driving, hills and greenery I'd missed, etc. to the deeper things like a brief reunion with loved ones and the chance to talk to people who've been in my program and finished up. There were plenty of challenges, too. For one, I was negligent in my Christmas shopping, which resulted in my being in the mall on Christmas Eve (or maybe it was the 23rd...can't remember). The reason why I mention this is because I was not prudent nor exercising self-knowledge in an efficient way, because I HATE malls, especially with lots of people. From the silly things like having Christian charity and human decency challenged by the tunnel vision or preoccupation or whatever goes on in others' minds in the parking lot to deeper things like the onslaught of people and things and messages making insane promises about my mortal and dire need for 4G plans, bras for a nonexistent girlfriend, AXE body spray, etc. being sated (the deeper problem being what comes just short of...if not synonymous idolatrous market). Maybe this is melodramatic, but doing that was a great challenge for me to dig deep into what Christmas means for me; without that knowledge and conviction, or if I didn't dig deep, I would just become hateful and cynical.
In spite of the downer that was my poor planning, I emerged with gifts in hand, only slightly perturbed.

Time at home was too short, as it always is, but even more so due to heading back to the Bend even earlier than the academic year required. Of course, I wouldn't leave time at home for anything arbitrary; I went back to see my classmate and his (then) fiancée get married...and, of course, help them celebrate. The wedding itself was beautiful. The prelude included the song "Bless the Lord, My Soul", a Taizé chant that I happen to enjoy immensely. The readings were well-chosen, the bride and groom administered the chalice to the rest of the congregation, and there was a meditation song sung by a musician whose earlier works were instrumental in my coming into the faith. The reception was equally lovely. I could gush good things about this couple and the folks in my program for a long time...but instead I'll just gush a little bit about a more general theme that encompasses all of them.

You know how earnestness can just shine out of a person? Like, when love earnestly shines through somebody or between two people? I noticed it from the get-go with these two getting married, but even speaking more generally, the love that is so obvious and sweet, transparent and obvious but onlookers' participation (not just witnessing, but a distant participation) is not violently grasped for but beautifully extended as invitation. I heard it and hear it every time I hear the aforementioned artist singing. I can see it in my classmates. More foundational than earnest love of significant others or spouses or even family members or friends is the love of God. That's the love that shines the most beautifully, abundantly, and which is the guiding principle for the other loves. It's the symphony; the other loves, the individual sections' music. Each part goes a certain way based on the overall plan for the composition both in that moment and overall.

I think that's the only resolution I'm going to treat with severity, and I feel better that I stumbled upon it in the beginning of the Advent season rather than January 1st (because I feel better formulating these things at the beginning of a new liturgical me?)...deepening that love, rediscovering and forever discovering anew the Fount of Every Blessing. It's the one thing that I know matters, the one thing I know I'm "supposed" to do...and from that, everything else will flow. I'm grateful for the opportunity that my classmates and this program have given me to delve deeper into that aspect of me. It's been a while since I've felt so clearly (and occasionally explicitly) invited!