“God leads us, and no wiser or more loving hand can guide our destiny.” – St. Marie Eugenie, foundress of the Religious of the Assumption
There have been so many times in the last 2 ½ months that I have been asked “Why here?” “How did you end up in Worcester?!” “Why did you choose Worcester? There are so many other places you could have gone!”
My answer has varied slightly every time, but the general idea of my answer is that God brought me here for a specific reason. God has a plan for me, that I trust in and know there is so much good that will come out of being here…in Worcester.
A little under a year ago I started looking into yearlong volunteer programs. There are so many programs out there to choose from; it was very overwhelming and hard to narrow down my options. So I let it go for a while, then went back to it and narrowed it down by type of service opportunities, which was still a ton of different programs. Less than before, but there were still so many options. I finally narrowed it down to the 4 organizations I would apply to and the whole time kept saying “God, please show me which program is right for me, which is the right place for me.” After submitting my applications the waiting game began. Waiting to hear back and waiting to hear about an interview. Once I had my interviews I then had to wait to hear if I had been accepted to any of the programs.
As I was waiting to hear back if I had been accepted I remember talking with many people about my options and “what may be”. But what I remember most was a conversation I had had with one person about how scary this whole process was and how to know which is the right program for me. “How will I know which one I am supposed to pick? How will I know exactly where God is calling me? What if I pick the wrong place?” All I remember this person saying in response to my ramblings was: “You will just know which is the right place, it will just feel right to you, it will feel like where you belong.” To which I responded, “but I have already had 3 of my 4 interviews and still have no clue what feels right!” “You will know when you need to, you will be able to feel it.” To which I though “well that wasn’t very helpful…”, not realizing it would be one of the best pieces of advice I got.
So I continued waiting for responses to my interviews. Slowly I started getting emails or letters telling me if I was accepted or not. “Thank you for your interest in our program, but you have not been chosen to work with us, blessings to you for all you do and will continue to do.” “Thank you for you interest, but at this time we are unable to offer you a 2nd round interview, but can put you on the wait list in case spots open up.”
OK, so maybe I didn’t have to worry about those 2 programs anymore, that might make my decision easier. “We are very excited to accept you in our program, your gifts seem like they would be a good fit with what we are looking for. We would like to offer you a spot in Worcester, MA.” Yay! Finally a yes! I immediately responded and said “Yes, I accept”, because I knew the other program I was waiting to hear from was my last choice anyway. I was hoping and praying that this would be the right decision. About a month later I heard from the 4th program.
“We liked what you have to offer, we would like to offer you a 2nd round interview. Do you accept?” “Can I have the weekend to think it over”. At this point I was pretty sure I had already made the right decision, but wanted to give myself a chance to think about it. I called back on Monday and said “I’m sorry, I don’t think I am going to continue in the process, I’ve been accepted to another program and it seems like a better fit for me. Thank you for this opportunity though.”
I still had no idea if I made the right decision, but somewhere deep down “it just felt right.” Which is how I was told I would feel about “the right program”. Something about the whole application and interview process for it seemed different than the others, but also my acceptance letter made me feel very right about my decision. My other letters were standard [insert your name here] letters, but this letter seemed personal and warm. So I was starting to believe it was absolutely right, I was hoping I was actually listening to God telling me where to go.
Over the summer I freaked out a few times, wondering if I had made a mistake, what if it wasn’t right? But the second I stepped out of the Boston airport and met Beth, I knew I made the right decision. All of my worry was needless; I was where I belonged.
One thing I think about still was my approach to this year, which I even wrote on most of my applications, which was “I will go wherever God is calling me. Wherever God feels I am needed.”
So, why here, why Worcester?
I am in Worcester because God felt I had some work to do here and some things to learn that I could only learn here in Worcester. Do I know what all of it is? By no means do I know the plans God has for me for this year, but I know these plans are something wonderful. I still have many things to learn this year about myself, about others, about Worcester, about the larger world, about this community I am living in and about God. All will be revealed in time and I already know that I have been changed, even if I can’t define how quite yet.
The community I am living in with my 2 other housemates is referred to as “Cana Community”, referencing Jesus’ first miracle; the wedding feast at Cana. This miracle is all about transformation, Jesus turning water into wine and also I think about Jesus transforming himself, to prepare for the rest of his life and for the rest of the many miracles he would perform in his lifetime. This was a time of change for him.
So living in this community is about transformation, about transforming myself and being transformed by others and allowing this transformation to take place within me and through me, while serving God and others. It’s about allowing God to work through me and show me what I need to see and do.
So why here?
Only God knows why, but I know it is for a reason. He has known all along why here, why other things didn’t work out, even though I may have hoped they would. He’s got a plan for me. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – Jeremiah 29:11
So as I sit and think about these last 2 1/2 months and all that has happened, I know God has been right there with me, moving me along, helping me through. To take from a reflection we used one night at prayer "God has granted the world with pencils and paired them with courage to do the scripting." God is working through me as much as he is working through everyone else I am in contact with. He is helping us all write the stories of our lives. He is also helping us to live these stories out, not just sit there reading or writing them, but really and truly living our stories out. Who knows which stories will intertwine, but God will help us to see the meaning for all of it, everything, the big and the small.
“Don't know just where I'm going
And tomorrow, it's a little overwhelming
And the air is cold
And I'm not the same anymore…
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life.” – “Brave” – Idina Menzel
So, even though I may have no idea where I am going, or why I am here in Worcester, I know God is guiding me in the right direction. Everyday I am here in Worcester, I am able to slowly see a little bit more of God’s plans in the big things, but also in the little things. It is in the little things, the everyday interactions and occurrences, that our lives, God's plans, are revealed to us. We just have to notice the little things…