I felt a call to adventure in September when my friend, Lexie, a FOCUS [Fellowship of Catholic University Students] missionary, asked me to join her on a mission trip to Belize over spring break. I’d never been on a mission trip, although it had been on my heart for a while. After discerning that this is what God wanted for me, I decided to sign up.
Amidst preparing for Belize, I continued working at Holy Trinity Newman Center as the development intern, growing so close to the other student interns that they felt like family.
I had been attending the Newman Center on a daily basis since my first day at NAU when a friend invited me to an information meeting about Mu Epsilon Theta, the Catholic sorority associated with the center.
By the time senior year rolled around, I I tried to savor each moment because I knew it would be the last. I attended welcome week events for the last time, meeting new students and trying to make them feel at home, like so many students did for me my freshman year. On my last retreat this past February, I burned the smell of the weekend to memory: wood from the fireplace in the lodge mixed with incense from daily Mass, and I said goodbye to the retreat that taught me of Jesus’ True Presence in the Eucharist.
There were other things that I was not ready to say goodbye to, the things that sent tears flowing down my cheeks whenever I thought about leaving. They are the moments of going upstairs to the lounge with the intent of doing homework but getting caught in life-giving conversations with others instead. They are the moments with my coworkers where our schedules overlapped and there were four or five of us crammed into the intern office, sharing life together. They are the moments of going on adventures with my Bible study and the moments of seeing the Newman Center full of students, ready to enjoy a meal together and learn about the faith at Newman Night. They are the moments of barely getting through a difficult class and rushing to the Newman Center chapel, knowing that Jesus will be there to greet and comfort me.
I got a call from Lexie two days before I was supposed to leave for Belize, and, with a heavy heart, she explained that all FOCUS mission trips had been canceled due to COVID-19. I felt so blindsided by God, and I expressed these feelings to Him as I cried in the chapel after hearing the news. How could He lead me to Belize and then snatch it away from me? How could He prepare my heart to serve Belizians when it was never supposed to happen in the first place?
In the days to come, Masses were suspended along with in-person classes and all Newman Center activities
And the kicker: graduation. I feel like I wasn’t given a chance to say goodbye and I felt like I didn’t get closure on this chapter of my life. I felt abandoned by my Heavenly Father.
In all of this darkness, I’m so thankful that the chapel is still open in Flagstaff and I took all of these feelings to Him one day. As I prayed with my eyes closed and hands open, an image suddenly overwhelmed me. Jesus knelt in front of me and He grabbed my open hands. With tear-soaked eyes, He looked at me intently and said, “I’m so sorry.” Together, we mourned the loss of not going to Belize, of not being able to say goodbye to the Newman Center and of not having a graduation.
Yes, a lot has been ripped away from me, but I realized I don’t have to have an extravagant life full of adventures like I thought would happen this semester. Living life with Jesus and loving my family — the people He’s calling me to love right now — is radical and an adventure in itself.
He is working all of this for my good, for our good. Maybe all of this is happening so we draw closer to Him with the extra time that we find we have on our hands. Maybe this means that we love the family that He gave us, the family that we normally don’t spend much time with because we’re too busy to.
Maybe this means that we look deep within our hearts and discover what healing needs to be done and to ask Jesus to come into those parts of our hearts. He is the peace in this storm, and He is the one thing that is constant in all of the uncertainty.