Monday, August 19, 2013

I Am Not Alone

It's finally here. I leave for Hong Kong tomorrow morning at 10:30 am! 

The past few days have been bittersweet as I've gotten to see nearly all of my close friends and eat all of my favorite foods for the last time (at least for a while). It has been sad, but I am SO excited to start this new chapter. 

One question I have been asked frequently over the past few days has been, "What are you most excited about?" This has been a hard question to answer, and I think the answer has been different with every response. However, now that I have thought it over, I am most excited to grow. 

What do I mean by growing? Culturally, mentally, spiritually - this mission is going change me. I've never lived in such a massive city. I've never been so far from home. I've never been in a better position to wrestle with my faith. 

But I'm nervous. A little scared, but mostly excited. This emotional state is just too big for words. But that's when I find prayer most useful, and the following prayer by Thomas Merton has made the past few weeks a little easier.

"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 I am following your will does 
not mean that I am actually doing so.

But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that 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 I will 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."

I remember I first read this prayer in high school, however it didn't really speak to me. I imagine my 17-year-old dumbass self must have thought I had it all figured out. Typical. But nearly a decade later, with the uncertainty of moving to China looming over my head, these words mean so much more to me. It's just not the power of the words of this prayer that moves me. It's also the idea that there others reading this prayer, or have read this prayer, to overcome doubt and uncertainty.

I know that this prayer sustained my friend and fellow YASCer Jared during his time in Lesotho, Africa. And that is also supported my priest and former YASCer Thomas Murphy during his mission in Honduras. It may sound silly and ridiculous, but I feel stronger and more confident after reciting the words above. The words make me realize that I am not alone. I feel this way because I know this prayer has a history. It has played a large part in the lives of the people who have come before me, and continues to play a part in the lives of people currently discerning their own callings. I'm sure it will also play a huge role in the lives of people who have not yet read it. Who knows? Perhaps someone reading this blog will find some solace in these words and become a part of the story. 

I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me. 

But I am not alone. 

See you on the other side!