My dad can juggle.
That’s right, I’m talking clown quality juggling here. When I was little, he would juggle sometimes to make us laugh, and often his juggling balls and pins would make an appearance at a birthday party, much to my excitement. And time and time again he would try and teach me how to juggle along with him, but I always had trouble figuring it out and would get frustrated long before any real practicing happened. And so, as you might have been able to guess, I never actually learned how to juggle. Which is really such a shame, because it’s a skill that would be especially helpful in my life right now.
Here’s the thing about juggling. The real trick is to not actually hold onto the juggling balls tightly, or really at all. It’s all about timing, about tossing one ball up when the other is falling and switching with the one in your other palm. I, however, am exceptionally
good at holding on tightly to things. I’m often nervous to let go, especially with because of the possibility that I might very well drop it. And that’s really how I’ve felt time and time again this Spring semester, nervous each time I have to try and juggle and balance all the things expected of me at once. I might drop something. Or worse, I might drop everything. I’m involved in a lot in this last semester, and all of these things demand so much of me. Serving as household co-coordinator for Rosa Mystica, a SENT Ministries CORE team leader, a member of the Belize Mission Team, and taking classes and writing my thesis, all while trying to enjoy and foster all the beautiful relationships I have with people on campus here. It’s so much. It’s so much more than I could possibly ever juggle.
But this blog post is not meant to be me listing my ever lengthening list of responsibilities in a rant that serves only to stress you out as well. I only take the time to describe things in this way so you can see how much of a realization it was for me when I recognized that I’ve been viewing everything all wrong. It’s hard to see this sometimes in the midst of all the craziness, and so it demands a step back to regain perspective. But the truth is that, it’s true. I can’t juggle it all. These things, these responsibilities and relationships and roles, are way more than I could ever accomplish and balance. I just can’t.
But the solution is not throw my hands up, it’s not to become frustrated like I did when I was younger and my dad was patiently trying to teach me. The solution comes with the realization that I’m not juggling these things alone, but with the Lord. And God the Father, who I trust has so providentially placed me in all of these many demanding roles this semester, is the one who catches when I let go. Things are not just flying and falling and then hopefully being caught by me again on the way down. God is here, helping me, holding fast when I let go and helping me keep balance.
So, though this semester thus far has seemed so far at times like a no-rehearsal, opening night, full audience performance of my juggling abilities, that’s not entirely true. That’s almost kind of a selfish view for me to take. Really, it’s a showcase of my trust. Of my ability to do the best I can and then let go, letting God take the rest and trusting that He will not let the ball drop. It’s a beautiful exchange that’s really difficult. And that I’m just starting to figure out. But God, much like my own dad, is ever patient. And He will thankfully never tire of teaching me how to let go and hand things over to Him. So, as I continue to attempt to juggle my way through this semester, I’m learning that it’s much less an art of juggling perfectly every piece, and much more an art of letting go so that God can be in control. Then all that’s left is to enjoy the beauty in it all.
All of my travels so far have been enlightening, teaching me things about the world and myself, both of which I am so grateful for. And as much as what I’ve experienced so far has exceeded my expectations, I did set off on this trip to Austria prepared for adventure. I was kind of ready for it, or at least ready for the unknown that it was to be. But it’s what I wasn’t expecting, the hidden treasures of life in the Kartause, that have turned out to be some of the greatest gifts so far. That’s what I want to share with you today: the unexpected gifts that I have received already from the Franciscan Austria Program. And hopefully in so doing, I’ll be able to give you a little taste of what Austria’s like for me.