Sunday, October 7, 2012

Travelin' Thanksgiving


By: Erica Stewart, Recruiter

When running from city to city and university to university, sometimes I don’t take enough time to appreciate what I am thankful for. It's important to balance all the activity with some time of gratitude and reflection. My experience traveling around the country has helped me make the following list of things I am thankful for:



1.     My GPS. I am absolutely horrible with directions. My GPS has saved my life…except for the time that it brought me to the wrong entrance at LMU!

2.    Beautiful weather: Lubbock, Austin, San Antonio, Los Angeles, San Diego…nothing better to say “thank you, God” than a gorgeous, sunny day...especially on the beach in California, right?

3.    Liturgy and prayer with those I visit. This has been my favorite time spent in my travels so far. I so deeply miss praying within a community now that my year of service has ended. Attending liturgy and prayer services has brought me back to the deep faith of our Church that I love so much and reminded me of the power of community. As we know, the Lord says, “when two or more are gathered in my name, I am there.”

4.     Free meals…whether they are provided by Campus Ministers (especially when they take us off campus, thanks Liza!), friends who open up their lovely homes to me with gracious hospitality, or even the random college student who has a few extra dollars on their meal plan. I love the time spent with them, and of course the food!

5.    Travel for travel’s sake. I love experiencing new cultures, new food, and am learning to love the journey now, too. Simply walking around a new city and seeing where I end up has become a “must do” in my travels.

6.    College, period. Obviously when you graduate, you miss the college experience. For me, I see a future on college campuses in my career path, and every time I step onto a new one, I feel a strong sense of belonging in the university community.

7.    Fellowship. Whether it has been at a fair with the other recruiters, out at a restaurant with locals, in the convent of the sisters in Los Angeles, or seeing old friends, my extroverted tendencies clearly come out when I have the opportunity to meet new people and connect with them.

8.     “Alone time.” On the other hand, as an extension of my last blog post, the time I have spent alone in my travels so far has taught me how to better listen to myself and to what God is calling me to do for my life. It has been a great opportunity for reflection on the path that is set before me, especially since the most commonly asked question for me right now is “well, what are you doing after this?” (Stay tuned for that answer!)  

9.    The simple joys. This is a broad one, but I feel it necessary to include. Of course, I think of my friend’s dog, who has provided me with many smiles and kisses during my time here in San Diego, but then I also think of the drives along the beaches, the new churches to explore, and the countdown to my sister’s wedding next weekend (it’s now in single digits!). When reminded of these simple things that bring joy amidst frustration, sadness, or loneliness, the world becomes a bit brighter.

10.    My wonderful staff and family. I saved this for last because it is truly the most important. I would obviously never be able to do what I do without the opportunity to work at such a great organization, which sends a wonderful message of the beautiful impact service has on one’s life. Their support, fun, and willingness to help has kept me mindful of how blessed I am to be a part of such a great team. Then there's my family, who always backs me up 100% and will be the first ones to tell me how proud they are--which really helps when you’re thousands of miles away from them and missing them like crazy. A special thanks to my family for giving me the motivation to strive to make them proud with everything I do!