Europe is, to sum it up in one word, grand. We have gone on school excursions to Melk, Salzburg and Vienna. The cities are full of churches that tower over the sky line and palaces that stretch into the horizon. Gaming, though itself is small, is situated in the middle of the mountains, which tower over the town below. It’s not hard to think about how great God is when you feel so small next to the Alps or when you walk into a Gothic church, with everything towering upward to the Heavens. Those moments, in their grandness, have made me recognize my littleness.
In the process of becoming more and more aware of my littleness, St. Thérèse has begun stalking me in the best possible way. I keep finding her footprints in various aspects of my life. She is known for her little way. This quote from The Story of a Soul encompasses many details about her outlook on life and her faith.
“Unfortunately when I have compared myself with the saints, I have always found that there is the same difference between the saints and me as there is between a mountain whose summit is lost in the clouds and a humble grain of sand trodden underfoot by passersby. Instead of being discouraged, I told myself: God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint. It is impossible for me to grow bigger, so I put up with myself as I am, with all my countless faults. But I will look for some means of going to heaven by a little way which is very short and very straight, a little way that is quite new […] It is your arms, Jesus, which are the lift to carry me to heaven, And so there is no need for me to grow up. In fact, just the opposite: I must stay little and become less and less.”
Not only has the grandness of Europe taught me to recognize my littleness in comparison to my surroundings and to what God has created, but to recognize it in terms of everyday life. It’s really easy while in Europe to get caught up in the travel plans and the touristy things and forget to embrace the everyday moments. Some of the best things about Austria have been the quiet moments in the adoration chapel, the small moments of victory when I can answer a question right in my Philosophy class, life talks at random moments with people you don’t expect, going for runs through the streets of Gaming, or drinking a really excellent cup of coffee with a friend. God is in the great things, but He’s also in the little things.
As my journey through the semester continues, I had hope to find the balance between the big and the little; to see God working in everything around me.
It is such a huge blessing to attend Franciscan University where the study abroad program has become commonplace among the student body. I would say roughly 85% of the people I know have gone to or are planning to go to Austria. Sometimes I forget how awesome and rare of an opportunity that is. Most other schools do not have a program like ours.