During the Christmas break, I was busy with preparations for two events—vocation outreach at the FOCUS #SEEK23 conference in St. Louis and our mid-January Mission for Peace event. Instead of a time of rest, I quickly found myself feeling like a working bee running from one place to another place. Then, on New Year’s Day, I traveled to St. Louis for the #SEEK23 conference that focuses on inspiring college students “to dive deeper into the Gospel and discover how to answer Jesus’ call to leadership, relationship and discipleship.”
Driving from Great Bend to Wichita, Kansas to catch my flight to St. Louis on the first day of the New Year, I felt a little resistance inside me about attending this conference. I wanted to stay at home, to rest and to enjoy this New Year.
Luckily, driving alone, I had a chance to settle myself interiorly. I was suddenly aware that I was not ready to welcome the year 2023. Because of my busyness at the end of the year, I felt that 2022 left me before I was ready, like lightning that happens so quickly and is over. I felt an emptiness and shock at the arrival of the new year 2023. I wished I had more time to reflect and close out the year of 2022.
As I was driving, a Bible quote spoke to me, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” (Act 1:11) A scripture passage we usually hear on the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord in the Easter season. This question invites us to ponder how we intend to live our faith in the moment. This question brought me back to the reality of life.
As I was staring into the sky while driving, I knew I had to let go of what I wished happened at the end of 2022 and focus on embracing this coming of the year 2023. So, I found myself asking “How should I live and what can I do better in my life for this coming year?” Listening to my deepest desire, the word “mindfulness” came to me, something I wanted to practice more. So, I refocused my energies and decided that during this two-hour drive, I would pay more attention to what I was seeing in the moment.
I became immersed in the beauty of the natural world around me, giving me moments of awe! I marveled at the many distinct shades of blue in the sky, and the subtle shades of brown – from the deep brown of the recently turned earth to the soft mocha of the fur on the cows. I marveled at the flying formations of different groups of birds as they flew in harmony. There were two times when I wanted to stop off the highway to observe these formations, making me say “WOW!” and praise God for the magnificence that my dancing heart was feeling.
I praised God, blessed God, and gave thanks to God for giving these beautiful gifts to me for this New Year Day. As I travelled through the flat plains in Kansas, I was grateful for the wide-open scenery that cleared a path for me to see the beauty of God’s creation around me. The different major landforms–mountains, hills, valleys, desert, plains—of Mother Earth can reveal the beauty of the creation. The grace of God is everywhere and can be seen when we change our attitude and are more attentive to what is around us.
Now that the new year is here, how are you welcoming this new year? Are you ready to look beyond the sky and explore what God’s call is for your life? How might you respond to your call with a new perspective and new attitude for the year 2023?
One way you can explore the call to religious life in 2023 is to join us for our January Mission for Peace program or our March Come and See retreat. Or, visit our vocation website to learn more about religious life, more about the Dominican Sisters of Peace, and about entering a process of discernment … of determining God’s desire for your life. Contact us to walk this journey with you.