"Make sure you come home!"
These words didn't stand out the first time I heard them, but as they were repeated over and over by each new person I told I was going to Peru and Ecuador, they echoed in my ears.
My dear friend Michelle had just made final vows and as we congregated at the reception word began to spread among the sisters that the next day I was off on an adventure. And thus, the phrase slowly creeped up on me.
Make sure you come home.
The first person who said it I smiled at- I had just experienced a wonderful time with my fellow sisters in formation, a time of bonding, sharing, prayer, and preparation for vows- how could I not come home to this place and this group?
After that first time there were many more sisters who repeated those words. But with less than 12 hours until I was scheduled to be on a plane to South America, that same phrase repeated in my head: Make sure you come home.
To be honest, the phrase made me anxious. I had every intent on returning from this trip. To hear so many people tell me I needed to come back put me on edge. Were they forecasting something? The weeks leading up to Michelle's final vows had been tumultuous- finishing my work at the community center, trying to establish a routine outside of that work while being constantly pulled back to it, and being hit by a car on my bicycle- I had survived all of this, how could a little trip abroad get in the way of my taking this next step of novitiate with my life?
I hadn't been bracing for Peru to capture my heart any more than (or honestly any where near the degree that) the Philippines and Kensington have already. Yet hearing it said so many times I began to think twice. I took a deep breath as I zipped up my suitcase, the words of so many people ringing in my ears.
Then the weirdest thing happened. Each day as I stood before something beautiful the same thought flashed across my mind- I need to go home; I want to go home.
Standing before the remains of Saints Martin de Porres and Rose of Lima- I can't wait to get home.
Overlooking the Sacred Valley from beautiful salt mines on mountainsides- I need to go home.
Looking out over Machu Picchu- I want to go home.
Watching sea lions and sea turtles in all their majesty in the Galapagos- home. home. home.
Each time it happened, I mentally slapped myself. "You need to be present to this moment," I told myself. I knew that this was a miraculous trip, that I was seeing things that should inspire wonder and awe. They did do that; yet, in the midst of such grandeur, my mind returned to the simple excitement and expectation of home. There was no way to get lost in what I was experiencing because my soul was and is already anticipating the invitation in front of me: to get lost in God, to continue the journey of finding myself, and to make my home in this life, which I am actively choosing and exploring with Jesus.
In the weeks to come I hope to share pictures and stories from my time away and my final weeks in ministry at the Community Center at Visitation, but the first thing that struck my was that call to come home. It is a call I believe we are all pursuing- the call to come home... to be at home in our God, to rest and be recreated through living and discovering. I don't expect that the Novitiate will always be perfect (what in life ever is?) and I honestly, don't know what to expect from it, but I do know that great excitement lies within me at the simple opportunity to grow in my relationship with Christ.
As I returned to Philadelphia yesterday, I breathed a sigh of relief... I was home. I was returning to the place, Kensington & Philadelphia, that I proudly and heart-fully call home. I couldn't be happier to be back, even as the impending transition of moving looms large just a few weeks away. Thousands of miles and millions of memories later, I kept me promise.
They told me to make sure you come home... and I have.