There are some days that are more difficult to be in Chicago than others. At first, I think I thought that those days would be major holidays like Thanksgiving or Easter. And while those days are hard, they're also the days that draw our novitiate group together as a community. You hear about what each person's family does for the holidays, what foods they cook, what traditions they hold dear, how they celebrate, and then you get the chance to do those things together.
Sometimes each person bring an aspect of their life back home to the table, other times we get the chance to make the holiday our own, in the way only a group of people who will be living together for a year can. At Thanksgiving, it meant swapping recipes. At Easter, it'll mean joining in the Paschal Mystery in a way that draws us together free of "the way things always are" and free to create lasting memories by simply being together. Yes, I miss my family and my congregation on these major holidays, but those days aren't the hardest. Feast days are.
Yesterday as I celebrated St. Joseph's Day with the community here in Chicago, I gave thanks for where I am and the many blessings I have in my life. I spent time with Joseph in prayer, had dinner with our sisters in LaGrange, and enjoyed a lovely prayer service. But it wasn't the same as being home. As we pulled up to the LaGrange Center of the Congregation of St. Joseph, I knew my sisters in Philadelphia were together celebrating Mass for this holy day. No doubt, there was music by our sisters, a reflection from one of our own, and time to meet and greet sisters from near and far. For the last three years this is how I have spent my October 15th (Founders' Day) and March 19th. Really, that is the only way I've ever celebrated those days.
Lot of days can be difficult but it's the days that I've only ever shared in community that are some of the hardest. They are the days you can't compromise; each one of us can't do what we do "back home" because of the simple fact that we're not at home. It's the people who help make the day; the Spirit that courses through the congregation; the being together as we are, doing what we do, that make these celebrations so great.
As I sat in the chapel at LaGrange yesterday, in the midst of beautiful music and a lovely prayer service, I knew something wasn't quite right. My heart was in two places at once- present to my sisters here in Chicago, who I share my life with day in and day out, and in the hearts of the sisters I miss back home in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, you can't be in two places at once. Yet, I know I'm where I'm supposed to be and in that, Joseph is with me.
Trust the One who has led you to here. Those words echoed in my ears as I prayed yesterday.
No matter the stress on the journey, we must trust. I trust that I am being led on this path by the One who holds me close in love. This is the God I am growing closer to and who is revealing more and more to me each day. Like Joseph, I am where I am meant to be and even though I may face days away I know that my heart is in the right place. A place where I can be at home even when I am away; a place that journeys with me in my heart, where I am held in the loving heart of God, asked only to trust and follow, forever at home no matter the distance.