Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Pilgrim's Prayer

Some days just seem to blindside us, leave us reeling in the dark, wondering why. I'm so exhausted physically and emotionally. Yet, somehow, this day still gives me peace and hope.

I found a prayer this afternoon, it helps so much to express what I feel stirring inside me. I needed to hear and pray it.

I had to realize that it's okay not to know everything, not to have it all planned out. To admit that, sometimes, I don't have the answers.

A Pilgrim's Prayer by Thomas Merton

My Lord God,

I have no idea where I am going.

I do not see the road ahead of me.

I cannot know for certain where it will end....

Nor do I really know myself,

And the fact that I think I am following Your will

Does not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.

And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.

 I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.

And I know that if I do this,

You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem lost 

And in the shadow of death.

I will not fear, for You are ever with me, 

And You will never leave me to face my perils alone.


I helped write a song in Africa. It was right after an extremely heartbreaking moment, greatly distressing, to say the least. I'm going to end this post with its chorus. It's very simple but we don't always need to say much to truly be heard.

Even though I'm broken,

Lord, you take my hand. 

I will trust in You,

 Though I do not understand.

Have a good night ya'll, I'll see you next week.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Life We're Living

What are you afraid of?

At first thought, I might say pain or catastrophe. But when I think about it,

I'm afraid of being trapped.

We live busy lives, don't we? At this moment, instead of writing this, I could be (a) practicing my piano (b) doing school (c) working on my album (d) brainstorming my novel (e) editing a film project (f) practicing my dance moves (g) getting some family time. 

But no, I have to work first on this blog post. Not that I'm complaining about having to write, I'm just disappointed that I always leave it till the last minute. And I mean, Every. Single. Time.

The problem with all of this is that I can't focus. I can't slow down. I can't rest.

Yes, yes, I do get my sleep and I do take breaks. But I'm never at peace, do you know the feeling? 

And I've read the blog posts and I've told myself, I need to cut back. But how? Most of these are serious commitments that I can't just walk away from easily. Most of these have deadlines, most have other people involved. Eventually, the only things I can say no to are the things I want to do, but don't need to do. Or if I work on them, I can't focus, I can't always concentrate when I've got more important things to do. 

I don't think it's healthy. It chokes life out of creativity and poisons free time. But what greatly troubles me, is how it's inescapable. 

This wild, frantic pace frightens me because it helps me to forget. It's only when you're taken out of this cycle, that you realize how much you long to change.

To illustrate my words, I wrote this on my plane ride back to America from Africa.

"I'm supposed to be concerned primarily with eternal things and not worry about temporal needs, but how can I prevent myself from slipping back? From losing the lessons learned?"

When I stepped off that plane, I desperately hoped that I wouldn't. Yet, here I am, four months later, caught right in the thick of it again.

How time flies.

The curse of this society is that we're not allowed to think, to look deeper and farther than ourselves. All this amazing wealth and opportunities but we never have time for any of it! The things that truly matter in our lives never seem to have real consequences in the immediate future like so many other trivial things do.

We're always worrying about our test scores, unfinished novels, or the latest drama in our circle of friends, but there's not always the same concern for drawing closer to God or developing healthy friendships. What about our splintering families or widespread addictions to social media or gaming? Why do we always have to wait before figuring these things out? 

People always tell me how mature I am for my age. Sure, maybe I am, but by what standards? Yes, I might have some things figured out, but already I'm regretting that it's taken me this long already. Just looking back a couple years makes me marvel at the mess I was and the person I am now. I'm still a mess, it's just harder for me to see it now.

And we all are. It takes strength to look at yourself honestly and admit the flaws you see. That's why the cycle is so hard to break. When we're too focused on the world around us and the demands it places on us, we can forget to look inside and realize the need to change. 

We simply don't have the time to confront the problems within ourselves. We put it off for later when we have more time. Apparently, once we graduate college, find a job, perhaps get married, that's when we'll have the time. 

It's. A. Lie. 

Life doesn't wait for you to get your affairs in order so that you can start polishing it into shape. No one is going to give you that push to move forward, to get in gear. If you want to see results in your life, then you need to move! There's no time to sit around waiting for the right moment. The moment is now, not tomorrow because one day there will be no more tomorrows.

We've got to start waking up and start taking charge of our own lives because ultimately, we're the only ones who are responsible for them. This cloud of busyness is a drug that has the power to destroy our lives. But if we're honest, this way of life is the one we're most comfortable with.

It's comfortable because it distracts, it numbs. We're living lives of quiet desperation and we don't even know it. The way out looks hard, uncomfortable, or exhausting, but we weren't made to be comfortable. 

We were made to live.

And live well.

Sunday, October 16, 2016


"Emmanuel, how much for a Boda-Boda ride?" Sheila asked.

"1000," the young man replied, our soft-spoken guide on this foray. I stayed silent as my aunt continued.

"Ok, well, we're not going to be able to take one."

"Why not?" he asked, looking perplexed.

"We have no money with us."

"We shall have to walk then," he said easily. "Come on, I know a shortcut."


It's that time of year. In every direction, (at least where I live), there's forests with trees decorated in every color, mellow orange pumpkins, and dried up fields of corn. The fields are covered in mist and the temperature is just refreshingly brisk. I'm tempted to say that fall is my favorite season, when only a few months ago I was saddened by the thought of empty trees and the approaching winter.

It always makes me nostalgic, like I'm living in a field of memories or waiting on an empty bench in the park. It seems that no matter what season I'm in, that one is my favorite. Can I just say that I love all the seasons with their different temperatures and colors?

And yet, each time the seasons roll by, I find myself clinging to each one and viewing the coming season with apprehension. It seems that there's always a universal mistrust of change, we're comfortable with that which we are familiar with. Change means transition, which isn't always comfortable.

After all, fall heralds colder temperatures and raking leaves, which can be seen as troublesome to one's regular life. Yet, whenever the next season rolls around, it happens so gradually that we're surprised by the change and instead of it being an unwelcome burden, it's a pleasant change of pace. For, despite the many vivid, even dramatic changes there's something comfortable about it. There's something familiar.

That's the beauty of seasons, they're always changing time and time again, but they always retain that sense of the familiar. It's a good lesson for us to learn; no matter how many changes we undergo, we don't have to fear them. We don't have to be afraid, for despite every unknown that may come, there's always an known quality about them. We have everything we need to face the challenge ahead, we just don't realize it until the day comes.

In that vein, I should finish recounting the story above. It's taken from, perhaps, the most nerve-wracking experience I had in Africa. We had just finished visiting with our selected student's family and decided to skip lunch in order to get back before the others would start to worry about us. (Plus, they needed the food more than we did.)

In a stunning example of generosity, Emmanuel's grandmother picked for us an entire sack of peanuts, to show her gratitude for our visit. Then we started down the dirt road, in search of St. Kizito's High School.  Emmanuel was about 13 years old and spoke rather poor English. The plan, originally, was to catch a boda-boda (motorcycle) ride back to the school from some of the nearby men. Unfortunately, neither of us had any money on us, (we didn't think it wise to be carrying it through the Ugandan countryside), so we had to walk.

Emmanuel guided us along several dirt paths, before taking us off the wider dirt road to a path he said was shorter. My aunt and I hadn't the slightest clue where we were, so it was with apprehension that we followed him onto this route. I'm pretty certain we were the first mzungus ever to travel that path. Finally, after a good amount of walking, I spotted the most reassuring of sights: Our Lady of Guadalupe School. We're on familiar ground, we were getting closer to home.

Home. It's funny how we thought of it like that, even though we hadn't even been there two weeks. I came to realization that home isn't just where we live or grew up. It's where we are safe, comfortable, and belong. It's where we can dwell in peace and safety. It's where we are familiar with our surroundings.

That night, I knew that wherever I went, I could always carry that sense of home and safety with me. How I looked at the school as a sign of reassurance is how we should see God.

Before we left America, we had a sendoff Mass for us, with a special blessing. In that blessing, a certain line struck me.

"May the Lord be a staff of refuge for you."

A staff of refuge. 

That's what God is for us. No matter how far we travel from home, whatever the circumstance or situation, even and most especially in times of danger. 

The less of our strength that we can draw upon, the more we can rely upon him, our staff of refuge. Trust me, no matter where you go, it doesn't seem a foreign land, strange and unfamiliar, because you don't have to change. You can still cling to that staff tightly. In the grand scheme of things, there's nowhere we can't feel at home, because God is the same, regardless of one's location. 

As St. Therese would often say, "The world's thy ship and not thy home." We live in a foreign land, it is true, but instead of causing us discomfort, that should give us hope. It means that one day, our journeys will end, our struggles will cease, our pain will be given purpose.

It means that one day, we will find peace, comfort, understanding, safety, joy, and love. In short,

We'll be home.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Sick Notice

I'm sorry folks, but I'm going to neglect posting this week. I've been a bit under the weather and my mind is unable to function properly. Hopefully, I'll be right back here for next week. I hope ya'll aren't too disappointed.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Covered in Light


That's how I described God four months ago. I think it's time for a status update.

Two days before leaving for Africa, I sat in an adoration chapel, praying and journaling about the trip before me. The weeks leading up to this, I had been plagued with the lack of God's presence. I didn't know where to find it or where to start looking. It was my hope and plan, that Africa would be the solution to all this. After all, where else is there a better place to find Christ then in the face of the poor?

But as the day drew ever closer, I was slowly coming to this realization. I wrote this that afternoon:

"All this time, I've been looking at Africa as the pivotal moment, the spiritual kickstart for my relationship with God. But it's not. I need to start that change now. Africa can be a catalyst, but not the fire. I need to provide that spark, Africa can fan it into flame."

I came to this conclusion, that if I wanted my life to change, then I had to be that change. No external circumstances are going to do that. God's grace can't change us unless we let it.  

Two days before this, I had a very long conversation with a good friend of mine (you know who you are ;). She stressed the importance of consistency in one's prayer life, carving time out of every day for God. At that point, my prayer life had been mostly purposeless and without direction. I knew I needed to change, but I didn't know how.  Thankfully, my friend also gave me some very practical suggestions on where to start.

The only problem was, I was leaving for Africa within the week. Due to the chaos of packing and planning, I hadn't the opportunity or willpower to put these suggestions into practice. After two flights and 24 hours of traveling, I found myself in Entebbe, Uganda. 

During the next two weeks, those suggestions would rattle around in the back of my head, but I hadn't the resources to make that happen. I realized I had to be patient; there wasn't anything I could do about it. Every day, we would celebrate Mass with the church packed with students. Every day was filled with prayerful reflection and small group discussion. Grace was at work in my life, I was beginning to learn to let go and give God room to move.

It began to seem like I was beginning to become stronger, more mature emotionally and spiritually. I tried to be brave and face whatever situation was before me, because that was where I was meant to be. My greatest fear came from myself, not from without. I was so afraid that I would forget it all, that I would go home and slip into the same routine I had been living for months. 

Originally, when we finally did return, it certainly did feel like that. Everything was the same, the grass was still green and so were the stoplights. It was so easy to idle away the day. But I knew that I still needed to make that change. 

Perhaps it was weeks or months, but I finally began implementing the plan, which I'm still trying to expand upon. I downloaded the iBreviary app and tried to make a morning offering every day. I tried to keep up on reading the daily readings every day, starting my day off with little snippets of God's word.

I joined a Bible study recently, to dive deeper into the scriptures and listen to God's word. As Peter Kreeft says, "Don't complain that God is silent, if your Bible is closed." That had always been one of my great doubts, why could I never hear God?

Even now, I don't really hear that whisper in my heart like I imagined it would be, but for the first time, I know that God is with me. And he wants to be there. 

On some occasions, I had felt like God had wanted nothing to do with me. That he didn't even like the sight of me attending Mass. It was a heinous lie, I know that now, I knew that at the time, but that didn't banish the feeling from my heart. 

Now, every day seems to be bathed with a divine light. I can't get God out of my head, he's always cropping up wherever I go. I pray more frequently and not just before meals. I try to remember that it's only through God's grace that I can accomplish anything. Nature has become even more glorious. Life is beautiful, and the sky is full of stars. 

I'm not saying this as if I've got everything figured out. Far from it, this is but one step ahead of where I was. There are still so many areas that I need to work on that I need to mature. Perfection is the goal and I'm not anywhere near close to that (nor will I ever be in this life). Life is a constant struggle. We can never relax or forget our eternal destiny while a battle still rages for our soul. If I'm not constantly pushing forward, then I'm only going to fall behind. 

But at this point in my life, it's never been more exciting or joyful. I can't help but love the fact that I'm alive, that I can taste the air and breathe. Drawing closer to God has made everything about him a joy to discover. I can hope and dream, I can love and laugh. I can be at peace because death is only a doorway into Eternal Life. 

And, of course, it won't always be this pleasant. The past often repeats itself, I might struggle over the same doubts that I had months ago. But I want you to know that you can overcome whatever it is you're facing. God has a purpose for all the pain, confusion, and turmoil. No matter where you are or where I am, whatever the circumstance, whatever the day, God is good. 

You and I, we're children of God. So don't be afraid, 'cause we're covered in light.

The Light of the Son.