I wish I could say that I write this post glowing with gratitude for the year that has passed.
It did, indeed, have its highlights, as you will see. But 2017, more than any other year in the last few, was unexpectedly strange and difficult for me in many respects. I left a job in Ohio that wound up not being a good fit after less than a year, after being so excited to possibly start building a life there. I was told that it wasn’t the right time for me to begin discerning a possible call to a particular religious community. And without going into much detail, my interior life has been feeling a bit…disrupted lately, like the Lord is working something new in me, which is very exciting, but it’s also been downright painful and has been making me feel out-of-sorts. I write a lot about things that Jesus is teaching me, and He has indeed been teaching me things, but much of it has been difficult to articulate, or perhaps too sacred to share publicly, so I haven’t felt much like writing lately, either.
Those challenges, I’ll admit, have made gratitude and joy difficult lately. But I sure do have a lot from this past year to be grateful for.
- In January I saw one of my favorite bands, Bear’s Den, in Columbus, Ohio. Such a fun reunion after a few years of not seeing them. Read about it here.
- In the spring I visited a few religious orders for discernment retreats! They were all lovely. The world needs more nuns/sisters and I will promote them and encourage women to discern religious life (and men to discern the priesthood or monastic life!) until my dying breath.
- In May I met up with a dear friend from West Virginia and we drove to Louisville to see Mumford & Sons. It was her first time seeing them live, and my first time in nearly 4 years. I missed them. And I wrote about the experience here.
- For about 4 weeks this summer, after leaving my job in Ohio, I returned to my old West Virginia home to work in the camp kitchen. It was exhausting. The days were long. I still can’t look at steel wool or manual can openers or hear the words “sticky toffee pudding cake” on “The Great British Baking Show” without having flashbacks. But I was surrounded by so much love from friends old and new and that really helped with having to leave Ohio.
- While I was in West Virginia I hiked to the top of Seneca Rocks, a bare and jagged rock spine, as a thunderstorm approached. Not the smartest thing I’ve ever done, but maybe the bravest and coolest.
- I vacationed in Colorado for a week. I drank good beer and ate yummy food and saw some new pockets of the state (Park County, y’all…hooooly smokes, talk about beautiful) and walked to the tip-top of one of the highest peaks in the state and hung out with my extended family out there and went to Mass in some pretty churches. It was a good time.
- Two days after returning home from vacation I had an interview at a Dominican parish in Wisconsin, and a few days after that I was offered the job!
- I was able to go back to my parish in Cincinnati on the Feast of the Assumption (August 15) to watch the outgoing Dominican novices make a simple profession before starting their studies in Washington, DC.
- My job in Wisconsin has been great so far. I work with Dominican friars. Sometimes at the weekly staff meetings I notice that I’m seated sandwiched between two friars and it just makes me smile. They’re wonderful.
- I started real in-person spiritual direction! I’m meeting with a priest in my diocese who was recommended by my pastor. He’s tough and doesn’t dance around my nonsense but I appreciate and need that.
- I’ve been getting more into the Traditional Latin Mass. I’ll save any further thoughts and opinions for another post, but I will say, it’s worth checking out a few times if you’ve never been.
- I’ve grown in my devotion to the Eucharist, Mary, and St. Joseph.
- I’ve had writing appear 3 times over at The Young Catholic Woman this year. Here’s the first post, here’s the second, and here’s the most recent (posted just a bit before Christmas).
- I applied for my passport at the end of December! I have no imminent plans to go abroad, but now I have European pilgrimages on my brain. #ErinGoesToItaly2k18
What will 2018 bring? Who knows. But here are some things I’m hopefully looking forward to!
- I think I’m going to start counseling! It’s something that I probably should have done years ago, and something that I think I need to continue making a good, sound discernment of my vocation and of who I am and what I want in general.
- I might be going to California in March. I would be in the San Francisco/Santa Rosa area. I’ve never been, nor have I ever experienced a 4.5 hour flight. I guess it would be a good warm-up for a one-day someday flight to Europe, though…
- I’ll keep growing in my job. I work as an administrative assistant and it’s been very cool and enlightening to see how a parish operates. It’s also teaching me a lot about professionalism–more so, I think, than any previous job I’ve had.
- I’m hoping to make a personal silent retreat. I had one booked this past June but had to cancel it, unfortunately. I’ve been on a discernment retreat that had a day dedicated to silent prayer and reflection and I loved that day. A whole week or so of that? Yes pleeeease.
- I might try to learn Gregorian Chant! I don’t know if that will mean finding a choir that does it or just teaching myself (with the guidance, perhaps, of some of the friars at my parish), but it’s so beautiful and I like to sing so it might be a good hobby for the next year.
Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 was blessed and bright and that the year ahead is shaping up to be even more so.