A New Reference Point

College seems to be my constant reference point for things.  At times I have to remind myself that I am not going back to my undergraduate years, that this isn’t an extremely long vacation, that this life that I am living right now is, in fact, reality.  My memories of college are so vivid and life seemed to be filled with so much learning, wonder, and beauty.  These days are filled with those things, too, they just happen to filled with a lot more day-in-day-out routine.  Some of the best stories that I tell for classes are ones where I was gallavanting around Europe for a semester or feeling hard-core praying outside an abortion clinic in downtown Pittsburgh.  Now I look up and realize I have been teaching high school for nearly two years.  In some ways, it feels like forever.  Yet it also feels like it has happened so fast.  Was it really two years ago that I was preparing to graduate?  That I was living on a campus teeming with young Catholics?  These days I am invigorated to spot another person below 40 at daily Mass.

This Palm Sunday four years ago, I was soaking up the sun from the steps of the basilica in Fatima.  It was the start of a ten-day break and I would then travel to Madrid to work with the Missionaries of Charity during Holy Week.  I experienced vividly the providence of the Lord on that trip.  While the Lord provides for me everyday, I recognized it and relished it more at that time.  It seemed to be in such magnificent ways.  The Lord provided a train at the appropriate time.  He provided a kind Portuguese family that drove us from the train stop to the town of Fatima.  He was constantly looking out for us and giving us glimpses of beauty along the way.

The same is true for my life today but it seems to be less spectacular.  My students participated in a discussion I tried to lead.  My meeting with my principal went better than expected.  I didn’t feel like dropping into my bed at 3:30.  I managed to stay awake for a whole holy hour.  Little things.  Things that don’t feel extraordinary or all that spectacular.  That is my life.

It is easy to feel a little trapped.  I teach high school students in a not-too-small town but one that seems a bit stifling anyway.  My heart doesn’t long for a metropolis or an accolade laden teaching career.  I simply desire to be fulfilled.  In many ways I feel fulfilled but in many ways I feel a lack. I cannot help but at times looking around me and wondering when it will be my turn…for so many things.  I’m young but I feel so old sometimes.

I need a new reference point.  College continues to fall further into the past with each passing day.  I cannot go back there, as much as I may wish to some days.  The future I imagine may not be at all as I expect when it finally comes around.  All I truly have is the present and even that I do not really possess.  Christ needs to be my new reference point.  Friends will come and go, family members will pass away, gifts will fade, and abilities will be lost.  But Christ is ever-new.

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