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viewpoint

‘Change is in the air’

| Friday, October 10, 2014

Change is in the air. I see the signs of fall beginning to speckle the horizon. The wind and the air feel different, crisp in the mornings and softer in the evenings. I love this air. It danced playfully over my face as I drove with the windows down just an evening ago.

The stickiness of summer is fading away. The humid summer days are now distant memories, replaced by the knowledge that I will be able to re-sort the top drawer of my dresser for easy sweater access.

Above all, I enjoy seeing the leaves on the trees change. They remind me of some of my fondest memories, those times when I would drive with my parents down the main street by our house in the fall. The reds, oranges and yellows of oak and maple leaves would dance and flurry to the ground around us. And my imagination always danced along with them as I couldn’t help but wonder to myself how much fun it must be to dance on the wind.

But then I would wonder why the trees had to lose their leaves. Although I loved the sight, I could not imagine why the trees would let them go, especially since they were so pretty. Why did things have to change? Why couldn’t the weather be like this all the time?

Change is in the air. This is a concept I thought about again just today as one of my high school students stopped by my office. The flow of the year had not afforded us the opportunity to chat, and I was eager to hear about her year, especially now that the first quarter already was drawing to a close.

Although I didn’t expect it, change was in the air with her too. Something was different. She looked about the same as she did her sophomore year, but as the conversation went on, it became clear that not much else remained of the silly, goofy sophomore girl that I now saw sitting before me as a junior.

As she sat in my office, she seemed not only more relaxed but also more serious and introspective. I wondered to myself if I had changed this much in between my sophomore and junior year of high school. She updated me on her family life, her soccer season and her life at school.

All of a sudden, however, the topic switched to the future. She mentioned to me that she wanted to go to Purdue. Then, she dove into the deep end: “I don’t know what to do with my life!”

And I responded not with an answer, but another question: “What do you want to make a commitment to?”

I thought more about her statement later. Was she talking about a specific job? I’ve realized that my life cannot be defined by any titles I’ve earned or jobs I’ve held. I’ve learned that a title or a job can be given to anybody, but it’s what I do with it that really defines me and makes a difference.

Right now, I am a campus minister. To be the best campus minister I can be, I spend time with my students. I make the time when they step into my office to put down what I am doing to talk to them. After all, they are my work.

But I’m their work too. The gift of their stories and vulnerability has shaped me and changed me.

It has made me realize that I’ve found what I want to do. What I do doesn’t hinge on a place, but on a commitment — to give and receive love.

Change is always in the air. Jobs may come and go, and our locations may change, but it is God’s loving hand that steadies us and shows us the way. Think about what gets you excited to get out of bed in the morning. That’s probably God’s compass speaking to you.

God’s compass for me lies in knowing that when I am able to give and receive love, I am most who God wants me to be.

And I’m willing to bet the excitement and joy of that commitment may help you to weather stormy changes too. Excitement and joy never have to be limited by job descriptions, only by the extent of our imaginations and willingness to give ourselves to love.

I never could have imagined that I would land at a high school, but, sure enough, God has led me to a community that helps me see love each and every day.

Commit to love, and you’ll have found the path of your life. Of course, there are no immediate answers, only the promise that with love we are always oriented toward our final destination, beatitude and the Kingdom of Heaven.

What could be better than that?

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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