Catharsis, Wonder, & Samaritans

In fall of 2013, near the feast of Christ the King, I attended the National Catholic Youth Conference. Even more specifically I was in one of the major breakout sessions, this one happened to be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. It was an amazing feeling being in a room with 5,000+ fellow teens raptly adoring our God. I remember being towards the back on some bleacher type seating, and right before we started they had everyone cram together so as to get more people in the room. The reason I say this is because to my right was this girl I didn’t know and we spent a lot of time trying to not elbow each other.

Towards the end of the holy hour it was as if I’d been hit by a brick wall. Just absolutely everything came up in my prayers. I began to tremble thanking God for bringing me through the darkness of the year and a half before that. Seeing me visibly shaking, the girl next to me decided to tap my knee as she leaned over and made sure I was okay. Tears of awe and relief running down my face I croaked out a “yes,” and we both returned to our prayers. Afterwards I remember thanking her for being exactly what I needed in that moment. Her response was that she doesn’t normally say a word to strangers, but felt compelled to say something. Giving me a bracelet she asked if I would pray for her at my next holy hour.

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It was no mistake that I randomly¬† found the bracelet again tonight. You see I’ve been spiritually low these past months. Just today I had another catharsis moment. Where through the help of another person who didn’t quite know how much they were helping me, I remember just how quick God is to forgive me. I was reminded that I’m the snag, I have to forgive myself and choose the embrace of God’s love. This bracelet reminds me of that love and what it’s like to be consumed by the Holy Spirit.

For us Catholics today is the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, which means that once again we hear and pray on the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s small acts of mercy, it’s treating each other as neighbors, that’s how we grow and become holy.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

Break of Day

I have walked a thousand miles and I will walk a thousand more. Searching. Always searching. All to find the break of day. Possessing a passion for life that leads me on. Constantly seeking whatever should come next. On this path I often find obstructions. They are distractions and demons, wholly determined to bring me down. Time and again I painfully rise, Infinitely better for having lived the previous day. I’ve come to believe that the end point is but a small part for now. my concern becomes rising each day prepared to grow evermore.

I have walked these thousand miles. And I will walk a thousand more, all before the break of day.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

“Staffers” aka Crazy People

This summer I once again have the privilege of serving at a Boy Scout Camp here in the midwest. Of course, as the staff gathers we only have a vague idea of what the summer holds for us. And yet we cast ourselves headlong knowing that in less than two weeks our camp will be fully alive with activity.

We’re staff. We’ve given up our summers, time with our friends, and good paying jobs. We’ll push ourselves to the breaking point and then carry each other the edge. We do it all for the camp we love. And facilitating a great program is never easy; we’ll be working in less than ideal conditions, and by the end the stress will break each of us in some way. But when we fall we always catch each other. Because as staffers, we’re so much more than coworkers, we’re family. And that’s why I know it’s going to be a great summer.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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Hold tight

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I always provide the convenient lie, that I simply do not have the time. Again and again I shout the line, I SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE TIME!! Time to go and time to see, time to love and time to be. Carried along by a busy life. Telling all I simply do not have the time. no matter my mind, the painful truth rings out still. That I simply have not made the time. It chides me by my own mouth and bids me rise. I must choose to act. Only I can alter this. For this my only life. Henceforth I choose to make the time. Time to go, and time to see. Time love, and time to be. I choose to hold tight and begin my wondrous life.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

embracing uncertainty

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news flash. I don’t know what comes next. I know what I’d like to happen, and I know what direction I’m heading. But I really couldn’t tell you where I’ll end up. I am a dreamer lost in my mind. I’m a traveler on foot, I’ll get there even if it takes me awhile. Where I go from here is enticingly undecided. And if I’m being honest, I’m absolutely okay with that. my goal is to simply keep going. I will live adventurously embracing the uncertainty that is thrown my way.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

a discourse in experiential learning

I’m graduating with an associate’s degree next week. I can’t begin to express how awesome that feels. And even though it means¬† I’m only a little over halfway to my bachelor’s, it’s still very important to me. It is a tangible accomplishment that can never be taken away.

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But what does it really mean? Physically it is a piece of paper that declares my successful completion of enough credit hours in the requisite categories. But it is really much more than that. It’s laughing in the hallways with my Phi Theta Kappa friends. It’s countless hours spent commuting. It’s the anxiety of balancing work and school. It’s the bond I formed with classmates while suffering through the lectures of a terrible instructor. It will forever be an experience that means more to me than what I learned in my classes. My perspective is based on more than the credentials, and so society will always put a different meaning to my degree than I do.

I’m a strong proponent of experiential learning. I hold faithfully to the notion that many concepts cannot be taught in a classroom. Wisdom is decidedly different than knowledge. As a society we put a great emphasis on learning through exposure, especially with increasing numbers of college graduates. In our obsession of experiencing things, we’ve forgotten their value. Too often we pursue experience solely for the sake of building a resume. We must return to accomplishing tasks with the intention of living in those moments.

So yeah, I’m excited to receive my degree. Excited because it marks what I’ve been living the past two years. Though I’m far more interested in what I will experience moving forward.

Peace, Love, and Happiness…

–Joe

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