Stepping Back

It’s amazing how fast time flies. The end of the semester is quickly approaching! As students continue to tell me about their late nights (or even all-nighters) finishing their papers or studying for exams, I am reminded of my year of service soon coming to an end. The new interns (yes, TWO!) are set in stone and the discernment for next year’s student leadership team is well underway. Last night I spoke with my mom about plans for my move back home next month. I also started a list of places I want to see and things I want to do before the move. The finality of it all is beginning to sink as the days pass… and  I am at peace with that.

This semester has been all kinds of crazy (good crazy), and I am so content with the way God continued to lay out this year for me, for the students, and for the wonderful ministry on the mighty campus of ODU. About a month and a half ago, some of you may remember that I went to Kentucky with my brothers on staff and 12 students for our CCM’s Alternative Spring Break. There are countless moments that I continue to hold dear to my heart to this night, and one of them is this prayer we all read together before we tearfully bid farewell to Becky (our wonderful service coordinator), St. Paul’s Parish, and the small town we called home that entire week.

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view. The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is a way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No set of goals and objects include everything. This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.” — Archbishop Oscar Romero

It was difficult to leave St. Paul’s that Saturday morning; for me, personally, it was tough to leave behind Becky and the beautiful little chapel we spent so much time in. I felt foolish for all the crying I let out after stepping out of the door of the parish. Probably doesn’t help that I’m overly emotional.

This prayer has been on my heart these last few days because I can relate it with how I’m feeling as my time here in Hampton Roads draws to a close. There is no doubt in my mind that leaving ODU will be an emotional one, especially when the end-of-the year events take place or when the students leave. But in those moments, all I can do is pray that God may remind me, through this very prayer, that the work is not yet done (of course, not just in CCM, but in my life). In fact, it will never be. So whether or not I land a job, I just pray that the Master Builder may give me the ability to boldly take a step back and be reminded of Who He is, who I am, and where He wants me to be… in every moment of my life.

In Christ’s peace,
Fatima

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