I Have No Idea Where I am Going…

I Have No Idea Where I am Going…

The title of this post is a line from a prayer written by Thomas Merton, a prayer that I prayed as I was discerning what my next step after college would be, and a prayer that I find resonates as I am at the beginning of my journey as a Augustinian Volunteer.

I am slowly but surely adjusting to living in community, my work with my service site: Augustinian Defenders of the Rights of the Poor (ADROP), and the city of Philadelphia. As I am transitioning to my life as an AV I still have many apprehensions: How do I come together with two other people I am still getting to know to form community? What will it be like walking along with people at my service site when I know so little about the populations I will be serving? How will God be present to me throughout this year? Despite some residual nervousness, I find myself feeling as though I am on the edge of something great. Experience has taught me that challenges generally turn into opportunities for growth, in my knowledge of self, the world, and in my understanding of God.

At the end of my immersion in El Salvador this past January I wrote the following about finding many “points of reunion” with God:

There is no one punto de reunion with God, there are infinitely many. The signs are unique to each of us. They are in what gives us life, makes us laugh, breaks our heart, brings a sparkle to our eyes, what calms the storm inside, takes our breath away, what fuels our passions, makes us feel small, and what draws us into the messiness of another person. Those are the places we encounter God in our day-to-day.

Sure enough I have already found several of these moments in my short time as an AV.

•When 14 people, who I had met less than 10 days before, were worth getting up at 5 am just to give them a hug before they headed to their service sites.

•When I found peace sitting on a bench in Rittenhouse Square surrounded by trees.

•When, while attending our first mass as a community, we sang the same Our Father that was sang at the chapel at USD.

•When the library of Philadelphia recognized me as a resident.

•When I sit and have casual conversation over lunch each day with Fr. Tony and Fr. Deegan, two Augustinians who work at ADROP.

It is these and many other seemingly small things that allow me to be confident in my journey as an AV, even if I have no idea where I am going.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

-Thomas Merton

Emerald Dohleman

Philadelphia, PA 2016-2017

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