Boat watching

A friend of mine told me that I needed to spend less time focusing on my future and to enjoy senior year.

 

College goes by quickly. Endless papers, social functions, catching up on sleep, people to meet, employers and recruiters to call. It all adds up and soon Nickerson Field will be covered with people in their gowns waiting to receive their degrees they have worked so hard to get. While I have enjoyed school and the City of Boston I cannot help but wonder what is next after I receive my degree from this wonderful school. As I have laid out the different plans I have in my head I realize that senior year is ticking and its ticking nonstop, 24/7, and its not gonna wait for me to hop on before it leaves the station. This past week I was catching up with a friend and mid conversation they told me to stop worrying about the next chapter. I think most college students are programmed to always plan for the next step so hearing this left me a bit confused. Then they went on to explain that my constant talk of tomorrow and next year and 5 years down the road was getting a bit endless and uncertain. While I plan on being around in the future, that is not the point of the now. They told me its more important to worry about the present and focus on today’s goals rather than planning the future and letting the day slip away. I have a lot I want to do this year. I realize after being stopped for a moment that there is a lot that needs to be done in the present before I worry about the future. President Eisenhower said that “plans are worthless but planning is everything” and this resonates with my temperament because I like to be prepared but there is no predicting the future and its circumstances. Another quote that sticks with me as the clock ticks on is ” don’t count the days, make the days count”. Muhammad Ali said that way before my time but he has a point. How can I make my days count here? What is the best way to spend my time? I sat in my apartment yesterday afternoon and watched a fleet of rowers, tour boats, and yachts coast along in the Charles River and all I did was sit there and watch. Our campus is always on the move and people have places to be but to take a step back and watch made me observe the amount of activity going on and where everyone else’s time was going. When you don’t stop and look around, time can go right by, but as I sat yesterday and just watched I thought about the seasons changing, my family, and all the other topics in my head. God can speak to us in any way He choses, but I like to think of my still moments as God moments, where He enters the room and is present with us and our thoughts. I want to share in these moments every day if possible. I encourage others to do the same. Taking the time in the morning or evening to enjoy coffee or tea or maybe the fresh air and just watch the boats or cars along the Charles and be present and still. I think that running around and being constantly being busy is one way to find answers to the famous “what am I going to do after college” question but I believe that being still and listening is a better guide than the constant hum of busy lives. Taking time this week to enjoy the shift to fall and being aware of God’s  presence helps to prepare for another busy semester.

On to Year Four

Boy it has been a hot sec since I did one of these. But to get right into it, summer was amazing but now it is done and my mind is getting itself ready for fall. With fall comes all new ideas given to me with the help of summer’s warm relaxation. I now find myself writing in a new home which is far more comfortable than the last and with my supports and motivations with me once again. With all of this in check there are three major goals that I have in this coming year: one, faith practice; two, work practice; and three, personal time.

In terms of my faith practice, this summer I had the ability to think and discuss what I value and dislike with my Catholic background. What came of this is a plan to listen to the part of me that longs for a more progressive view on the religion that I deeply love. Too long I have been tolerating groups that are too timid to discuss the past. I believe that this has produced a hesitation to change or in taking the steps that could to lead Catholicism to a brighter and more “love forward” future. Luckily, I have found a Parish that I believe supports these values and at the very least, provides an environment that is not just welcoming; but genuinely loving to all.

For my second goal of work practice, I simply hope to be more “on top of things”. I want to have the time in this last year to create incredible work in my studio, while also have the time to read and complete all other assignments in a manner that allows for my third goal to occur. This is my hope to enjoy my time with friends and loved ones more that I have been able to in past semesters. I know that this last year will go by quickly; however, after last semester, I also know that time can and should be made to take a day and go out on an adventure. Whether it be a hike or a visit home, it is this personal time to enjoy myself that I feel is crucial to fully enjoying my last year at Boston University.

All in all, I hope that these goals do not just prove to be aspects to reach for, but also guidelines that will lead to a healthy and meaningful senior year.

Reflection and Change

It has been quite a year of change and reflection. A year ago, I had no clue what the future held and to be honest, I still don’t fully know what the future holds. I do know however, that while change is a part of life and we must be prepared for it, we must also embrace it and welcome it because it could be what we need. Also, it is reassuring to know that even when life changes, and people come and go in our lives, Jesus is always there for us, as he has always been. Yes change is hard but we don’t have to do it alone. In times of change and transitions, it can be easy to lose direction or feel overwhelmed with uncertainty. I have learned in the past year that when life gets overwhelming and is filled with transitions and changes, I need to rely on the Lord to give me courage to continue forward every day, because I know He is with me every step of the way. It’s important to remember that God doesn’t forget you and will light the path and guide you when you feel uncertain. The Lord takes worries and fears away and helps us realize that the future is really not that scary when the Lord is by our side. Every change that we encounter, we must take time to reflect on because that is what the Lord calls us to do. Yes, change is sometimes inevitable, but if we reflect on it and know that God is with us, then we will no longer be afraid of life’s ever-changing course.

A Chilly Breeze

There’s a chill in the air again here in Boston.

Over the summer, I spent most of my time inside the semi-cool Green Line cars and indoors in office buildings, escaping the hot-humid air.

But upon the start of the school year, there is that, all too familiar now, chilling breeze, signaling the entrance of Fall as I watch the trees just begin to turn from green to yellow. Like any other year, that breeze has brought with it thoughts of the season to come. The cozy sweater season. The MOVE hot-chocolate giveaway season. The no more wearing shorts season.

Yet, there’s something unfamiliar about this year’s breeze too. It reminds me that this is the last cool season of my undergraduate career. The slight chill in the air mimics my minds wanderings, every now and then reminding me to check-in on what’s next for my future self. When I feel this tinge I often will turn from BU life and look at the LinkedIn page once more, read-over job climate articles, check how much graduate school costs, or simply dream of an apartment in New York City.

As I reflect upon these methods of calculation for anticipating the next season of my life, I recognize that I do not seem to be looking back too much, but rather looking immediately forward. I think I might need a bit more balance in this regard. Perhaps, it’s time to read across some of these old blogs, look through some old essays, listen to some old recordings. I feel as though it might be worthwhile to take account of where I’ve come, before looking too far into the future. Enjoy the chilly breeze, rather than be pushed along by it.

Balance. Balance.

Hell or High Water

In a murderous time
The heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.
(Stanley Kunitz, The Testing-Tree)

“So part of it is the humility of realizing this is my piece, and I want to tend to this piece the best that I can, but I’m not in charge of the whole garden.” (Vicky Sifter, former Executive Director of NWIRP)

Several times this summer I believed, truly, that I was in hell.

I’m from the Midwest. We love our lakes, but we’re landlocked. You don’t think about the ocean until you’re standing on someone else’s coast. The enormity, the hunger of the waves: I’ll be the first to admit that it’s foreign to us. How powerful the tide is. How unforgiving. Each cubic foot of a tsunami can weigh up to one thousand seven hundred pounds. Can you imagine that? Nearly a ton of water dragging you under. Crushing all the air right out of your lungs. I grew up a swimmer, but deep water scares me more than nearly anything.

If you could measure the desperation and grief and suffering of the immigration crisis, each unit would be consituted by one cubic foot of tsunami. Working in immigration relief is like watching thousands of people drown, and having to make the conscious choice to say: Right now, here’s who I can throw a life preserver. Because I don’t have enough for everyone.

In her book Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others, Laura van Dermoot Lipsky provides an anecdote from overworked immigration relief center NWIRP, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. “There’s a feeling of futility when you’re up against as much as we had been. There’s this constant clamor in your head, which is filled with the desire to help others and the painful knowledge of what you can’t do, and it never goes away,” writes domestic violence unit coordinator Donna Lewen. We must have humility. We must tend to our piece of the garden. But even so: it hurts.

We live by breaking.

It is a murderous time, and there is no other option. To live without breaking is a blissful ignorance, but it is also a deficit in empathy. Faith is not the power to answer the question: Why do bad things happen to good people? Faith is the power to withstand it. It takes some kind of faith to embrace humility, to live with humility, to walk in humility. To come home to yourself and accept your own breaking and still have the wherewithal to tend to your garden. Faith is the same as any brand of courage.

I’ll keep counting my life preservers. Keep counting on having more, one day. But in this relentless tide of pain it’s simply not enough. This summer I believed, truly, that I was in hell. I believed I was in hell and I learned how to grow gardens anyway, say quick prayers in a courtroom, admit my own humanity. One eye on the ocean. One eye on the sky.

On the Devotion of Self

yo la espero y me envuelve,
y así tú, pan y luz
y sombra eres.

(Pablo Neruda, Oda y germinaciones)

 

I’ve talked about the slow viscous drip of winter before, but it lives within me too, permanently hollowed into my right shoulder. A hollow: an inch and a half wide, my labrum separated from bone. And another, my bicipital tendon dislocated above my rotator cuff. The dull roar of pain. If you’ve ever had an injury that involves the bone especially, you know: it’s a tender, unrelenting thing. I think of it like white noise. A crackle of static that dilutes my attention at any given moment. In this pain there is a meditation. And it sounds ridiculous or maybe even masochistic. But when you have to take slow, the passing of time boiled down into a series of motions, there’s a sort of transcendence. Something very quiet in that space despite the static. I don’t know what else to call it.

In the first weeks after starting physical therapy – before I really knew anything about the damage –  I felt like I had broken a wing. I lay face down on a table and practiced pulling my shoulder blades back, relax, back. This was the fundamental motion to be relearned. (Maybe if I flapped hard enough I would lift off the table and fly, I thought.) It was of course not my first time being injured; I’d dislocated my left shoulder a few months earlier. But it was my first time starting from scratch. Like I was learning somebody else’s right arm. It felt foreign in a way that was terrifying. And it was so noisy. The night I dislocated my other shoulder I had cradled it, refused to use it, carried myself defensively. But now it was like doing that all the time. The static in my head dialed up to eleven. Navigating my daily life was a minefield. And yet, in those simple motions, the relearning of the essentials, there was a quiet, a fluidity, a gracefulness, though it must have looked awkward. Each movement was so well calculated that I felt rooted in my self-awareness. As if I moved through a world meant just for me.

Perhaps it is a silly self-devotion, but I find it a devotional act nonetheless. I am so concretely settled within myself, and in my old friend my new shoulder, that I find meditation in my every movement. To learn oneself anew is an exercise in consciousness. It’s hardly romantic: it’s also an exercise in fear, and sadness, and in loss. When you permanently damage your shoulder at nineteen, of course there’s loss. In that inch-and-a-half hollow rests entire meditations of loss, that have lasted unendingly and worn down. Worn down to my unwinged back, to bone. A quiet place. A self-devotion. I pull my shoulder blades back. I am borne, anew.

Work in Progress

As human beings, we are all  works in progress and it is okay to be a work in progress because we are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to have flaws, and as such we need to understand that flaws are not dealbreakers for the Lord because he loves us unconditionally and supports us no matter what. Additionally, I have been thinking lately about how we are all beautiful creatures in God’s eyes, and even when we do wrong He forgives us and accepts us back into His arms with love. One person is not more deserving of God’s love than another, and even though we may not all have the same beliefs, we all deserve God’s love. We are imperfect, but all deserving of the everlasting love of Christ, and for that, we should all be thankful.

the breath in the mouth

In a murderous time
      the heart breaks and breaks
and lives by breaking.

—STANLEY KUNITZ, “The Testing-Tree”

When the sun rises it sings as Udgâtri for the sake of all creatures. When it rises it destroys the fear of darkness.
This (the breath in the mouth) and that (the sun) are the same. This is hot and that is hot. This they call svara (sound), and that they call pratyâsvara (reflected sound). Therefore let a man meditate on the udgîtha (Om) as this and that (as breath and as sun).

–The Upanishads, third kanda

The massacre in Christchurch punched the breath right out of me. I am shattered. I am in a heartbroken solidarity. When a tragedy is so large you cannot swallow it, where does it go? The world is in shock, in grief, over and over and over again. How many times have we had to ask ourselves: What next?

However right now I feel that this grief, because it cannot sit stagnant within me, must be channelled elsewhere, into action, into advocacy. What happens next is what I make happen next. I am bitter sour afraid. For all my Muslim brothers and sisters I am seeing with eyes wide open. I am educating myself. I am wondering, what is my role as a brown non-Muslim person? What is Hindu-Muslim solidarity? What can I do and what will I do? I am questioning, relentlessly, and I am seeking answers. If there are no answers I will create them myself with my own two hands. My breath the sun. An entire world within me. I believe this, that my hands can create, deep in the soil where all life is.

Grief is a powerful thing, so powerful it destroys us, it takes us prisoner, it punches the breath right out of our gut. But in this time a heart lives by breaking, and it is forged again, and breaks again. We too must dig our hands deep into the hard work of carving out safe spaces, no matter what it takes. Ready to break. Ready to put ourselves back together. Within me there is a strength that cannot be laid to rest even in grief. Make no mistake: this is not resilience. This is survival. In the cracked earth breath whistles through.

It is an incomprehensibly murderous time. We are breaking against within through free and we live by this and we will keep living by this, holding steady, digging deep.

Paths and Directions

We all have our own individual paths we are on in life, and though each path is different depending on the person, every path has something in common: the journey. What we might not realize is that the journey we take down our path to get to our ultimate destination is long and winding with both expected and unexpected situations. If we stray from the path, that is okay because it is normal to want to take shortcuts in life. What we all need to get down the path successfully is support and love and guidance, form not only those who we love but also from the Lord, for e knows what is in store for us when we get to the destination.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the path I am on, and I’m in a good place as far as knowing what my future holds (to a degree), however the path I am on has changed somewhat over the years until I grew up and finally realized what I was meant to do. I know that the lord has a destination for me, and only the Lord truly knows what the future holds, but I know that as long as the Lord is with me, I’ll be okay and things will work out. Everyone has a purpose and a reason for living and all need to learn to live a Christ-centered life.  I call us all to live a Christ-centered life and let him guide us down the path we are supposed to go, and follow his directions.

thankfulness and more

We are human beings, and as human beings we all have habits that we fall into. One of these habits is not showing that we are thankful for the people and things that God has blessed us with. We are not bad people if we don’t show thankfulness, it is just a sign that we are not perfect. We are sheep and we all stray from time to time and get lost.  What we need to understand is that we are imperfect and sin in our lives. We all have things and people in our lives that are easy to take for granted if we are not thinking about it. Furthermore, it is imperative that we show the people in our lives who love us unconditionally that we are thankful for them even if we don’t show it all the time. However, we should always be thankful to God especially, because the lord is the one who knows our hearts the best and forgives us for our sins. We must also show thankfulness to the Lord for every day that we are given on this Earth for only God knows how long we have. The Lord blesses us with so much even if it doesn’t show as being very much. I call all my brothers and sisters in Christ to show thankfulness to the Lord every day, even in the smallest ways.

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

– James 1:17