As I sit here and reflect on my life, I think about how many things have changed in the past 12 months. Up until July of 2018, my life had been abnormally normal. I had gone 21 years in the textbook definition of life. But then I encountered a group of people that transformed my being. There was a month that I was living in pure joy and love from our Father. During that month, a transformation took place in my heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but that was the start of the rest of my life. I was drawn to love and community—something that, up until that point, I had been truly terrified of. I was scared to form relationships with people because people always leave—and I didn’t want to set myself up to get hurt, so I didn’t.
Of course, these people did leave, but they didn’t just leave me, I left them as well. We all went back to our respective homes and back to our respective lives. But not quite. Because each one of us had a new experience—a shared experience. We had all encountered God’s unending love for us through one another. So, although we were hundreds of miles away from one another, or maybe just a few blocks, we were still very much a part of one another’s stories.
Now, looking back, I am recounting all of the things that have taken place since that month. I realized that, after 11 years of chasing this one goal with blinders on, it wasn’t the path God was calling me to. Yes, I wanted to help people help themselves. But I was not called to do it through the AgriLife Extension Service. God was calling me to help these people through Catholic Charities. It was an organization I had already been involved with for 3 years, but I had ignored the call, because it wasn’t in MY plan—first mistake. When I accepted that AgriLife wasn’t for me, I was still utterly confused on where I was supposed to be. I tried graduate school, I tried California, I tried Indiana, I tried Florida, I tried Illinois, I tried Europe, I tried New York, I tried Colorado. But nothing felt right. Nothing felt calm. My advisor had told me when I returned from my month hiatus that I would be graduating a semester early from Texas A&M, which again, was not according to my plan. Everything was falling apart. How could this be happening? I did not sign off on this. However, because of this early graduation, I was able to put in more hours of volunteering at my local Catholic Charities office, where I met some beautiful souls and realized that here, I did feel that peace I had been searching for.
After months of searching and many prayers and retreats and questions and phone calls, I realized that I needed to trust in HIS plan this time, because mine was completely fallen apart. So, I placed all my trust in Him, and moved to Austin, without any official title or job, but with a sense of calm that I hadn’t felt before. I had said “yes”, and I was feeling the fruit of that “yes”, all summer. Finally, August 1st arrived, and I was brought on-board with Catholic Charities of Central Texas. It was beautiful. I have been brought into this community with loving arms, and again, I see the love that God has for me through the women around me.
I still reflect back on my month in Europe, spending the summer basking in the love of our Father with a community I will never forget. Even a year later, I cannot fully put into words how much these fellows have impacted me, both that summer and every day since then. Sometimes I will be sitting in a group, discussing how we can evangelize or what our purpose here is, and I find myself talking about Nightfever in Cologne, or I’ll be discussing what intentional love feels like and find myself rambling about the chapel in the schloss where our proclamations of joy echoed on the walls.
I used to wonder when it would fade, or when the other shoe would drop and I would forget about that summer, but it has become my friends’ new joke to say, “Did you know Kimi lived in a castle?” These experiences don’t come and go with the wind but are carved into our hearts to remind us of where and to whom we belong. We are some of the lucky few that have experienced Heaven on Earth and know where we are called to live eternally.