Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Our house community in our chapel together
last week.  Picture courtesy of Romina!
I sat down in the chapel late last night when the house was quiet.  I couldn’t let the day be over just yet, knowing that the morning would bring leaving.  I opened my journal and wrote a heading for an entry: “Last Night as an Affiliate in Casa Caridad – June 11, 2013 – 11:30pm.”  I sighed and looked around, wondering how many hours I had spent cross-legged on that little floor pillow, in prayer with my community and our loving God.

Just before I began to write, I remembered that each page of my journal contains a different Bible verse.  I glanced to the bottom of this so-far empty sheet to see today's nugget of wisdom.

My jaw dropped.

“The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalm 121:8)

I smiled through my tears.  Okay, I hear You, God, I thought.  You’ve got this.

I’d been feeling as ready as I could feel for the move from El Paso back to Cincinnati.  Then last Tuesday, I had my small obligatory pre-transition freak out as I spent probably seven hours straight going through belongings and packing.  That physical act always gets my anxiety going.  Suddenly, my somewhat settled life was becoming fragmented into a bunch of suitcases.  I realized that soon my room wouldn’t be my room anymore.  The trust I felt before was MIA.

On Wednesday morning after my frazzled afternoon and evening of packing, I met with my spiritual director, Veronica.  Sensing my unsettled heart, she looked me in the eyes and told me, “The Paschal Mystery is at the center of who we are as Christians.  And you, you’re living it right now.

“Transition involves a lot of letting go.  Well, really, this whole time of discernment has involved a lot of letting go.  You’ve had to die to ideas of yourself and your life that will no longer come true.  You’ve had to let go of control, of knowing where and how God will you use you, of the security of a romantic partner, and many other things.  Now you’re letting go of “Affiliate Tracy” or “El Paso Tracy.”  Like death, this letting go hurts.  But we know that death is not the last word.  All of this death has made room for new life.  And it’s all been happening simultaneously.  Tracy, things are RISING in and for you!” she said.   

She’s right.  In this moment, there’s mourning happening, but there is much treasuring and rejoicing and looking forward to.

Loved ones at Proyecto Santo Nino in Mexico
that I carry in my heart as I go
 In prayer last night, I scanned the many faces that represent people I have loved and have loved me in my almost three years at the border.  On a walk with Janet and Romina this morning, I tried to soak in the big Southwest sky, the sounds of the birds, the beauty of the pecan groves and this year’s cotton crop just sprouting up.  As we drove along I-10 to the airport, I tried to swallow up the Franklin Mountains, Mt. Cristo Rey, and the view of the tiny houses of Mexico just beyond the border fence.

In the same instant, I imagined that beautiful red brick building overlooking the Ohio River that the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati call home.  I imagined all of the hellos that would follow these stinging goodbyes.  I felt the warmth that comes from spending some time in Fairfield with my beloved Mom and Dad who I never get to see quite enough.  As our plane landed in Cincinnati tonight, I celebrated the lush green Midwest terrain and rivers that stretched out before my eyes.

Leaving – somewhere, or something, or someone – always seems to show me the expansiveness of the human heart.  In saying good-bye, we behold all of the gifts of the phase that is ending and open ever-wider to all of the gifts that will come.  We cry because we have loved deeply.  We hope and rejoice because we will love deeply.  How is it possible that our hearts are able to contain so much at once? 

A bursting heart!
As I shared teary-eyed hugs with loved ones before heading through security at the El Paso airport today, I felt it all.  There was love, joy, pain, fear, excitement, gratitude, memories, faces, places, moments, feelings, hopes, dreams, and more love.  A bit like in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, my heart swelled and throbbed and maybe even grew.  As Romina said today, our lives are so full!  These moments help me to stand in awe at the fullness of my life.  And at the infinite nature of God's love.

Tonight, Mom and Dad picked me up and brought me back to Fairfield, Ohio.  I ate delicious leftovers from the dinner Mom cooked last night.  We watched some episodes of Seinfeld.  Dad and I each had one of his home-brewed beers.  Now, sitting in my childhood bedroom, I'm surrounded by pictures and trinkets from my grade school and high school days.  I feel so far removed from the younger Tracy that this room represents, but I’m not separate from it.  It is all a part of me, just as these three years in El Paso are ingrained in my soul and will be with me wherever I go.

God is watching over us now and forever – our coming, our going, our staying, our starting, our seeking.

As I go to bed tonight, words that surfaced in my heart during community prayer this morning surface again.  It's an itty-bitty prayer that perhaps can sum up today’s bursting-heart experience of leaving:

“For all that has been, 
Thank you. 

For all that is to come,