Twenty years ago, my son was in first grade, my daughter in preschool. I was content working for a school district at the time and taking graduate classes, on track with the 10 and 20-year-plan I outlined for my family and myself. However, God had other plans. I did not realize at the time, but he was calling me home, back to the Church. His accomplice, my husband who faxed in my résumé to the diocese, helped me pay attention.
When I started in 1998, I did not know what to expect. I thought I would try it out for a year. Fast forward to 2018 where April 6 marks the 20-year anniversary of my first day on the job. But the word “job” no longer fits, as the journey taught me that my work here is a ministry. Likewise, these years have served as ongoing catechesis and provided some life-changing lessons.
Learning to surrender ranks as one of the most impactful lessons. Connected to this came lessons in patience and humility. Also, I count the gift of each encounter with the people in our diocese which continually reinforces the intricate ways God connects us to one another.
The pilgrimage continues and I still have much more to learn. For now, I leave you with two poems from my manuscript titled Somewhere Between Surrender.
The Painter Stirs Each Moment
He paints pink oleanders in my backyard, blends
greens into shade, into palms, basil, bougainvillea,
adds salmon into the mix. He stirs blues of the sky
with grays, oranges, pinks. He creates colors we
try to name, gives light, whispers his directions.
The path sometimes blurs in my eyes. He wakes
me with aromas peppered with spice, the perfume
of gardenias, the voice of love, the cries of my
babies gone now, making their own ways,
the premonitions afloat en el Rio Grande
with songs from la frontera.
Mixed media on canvas. Los consejos de mi mama,
la industria de mi abuela, the chess moves my
father tried to teach me, the birdhouses I painted
with mis pequeños, their laughter a contagious tint.
He holds some colors in reserve. Offers hues we
might not dare. He gifts the lizards their own
paintbrush, these chameleons that scale my
porch screens. He, the master painter, in the light
of the Resurrection. I, his apprentice, his groupie,
his skinned-kneed child. I paint with bloodied palms,
color all over the page. I cannot sing, hold a tune,
tantas las canciones, but I write, try to capture
lightning on the page, try to end the hunger, try
to keep from catching fire, catch daylight, answers,
hear the symphony of the hours in each moment.
A Work in Progress
Our expectations falter, critical selves of missteps
and falls. He picks us up, trusts us, again
and again and again. He wants to hear our laughter, cheers
us on, wipes our tears. Abba, I am your work in progress.
Yet you deliver surprises with a bouquet of red
kalanchoes wrapped in Sunday comics.
He does not count promises, disappointments; he picks
us up, gathers our dandelion florets scattered by
day's wind, nudges us in the direction, through hikes
in el Valle's wild, witness the gold blooms on the huisache.
If cactus flowers bring spring to the desert,
I offer my day, my poems, in prayer, in thanksgiving. Ni
el frio de Abril, ni la inquietud del miedo me quita
el ánimo. I wake each day for you Lord, incomplete I look
to discover your work in progress, your surprises, todas
tus maravillas. I surrender. May my pilgrimage walk
give witness to his love.