Every morning, I struggle to wake up. As my neighbors can attest, I snooze my alarm clock for approximately 36 minutes each day. There are a variety of reasons I might want to stay in bed. Sometimes I am tired from a late night hanging out with my housemates. In the winter, I did not want to leave the warmth of my bed and face a snowy Chicago commute. And even sometimes fear of not knowing what the upcoming day would bring kept me hitting the snooze button.
My life changed significantly when I moved to Chicago and began Amate. Change is never easy. It is a challenge to be fully present in the now, rather than looking forward or backwards. It takes a great amount of courage to wake up, truly, to all that each day has to offer. As I lay in bed each morning, trying to convince myself that I really can’t snooze one more time, many thoughts cross my mind. Sometimes I think about the clients I will meet that day, wondering if some days they do not want to get out of bed, either. Maybe the tiredness from working two jobs and being a single mother is wearing on them, or the fear of not knowing when they will see their kids next, or whether they will be evicted from the only home they have ever known.
Other mornings, I look out my bedroom window over the North House courtyard. I have watched the seasons change from the sunshine of late summer to falling leaves of every color, to barren and snow-covered branches, and finally, budding leaves and green grass have reappeared. I have watched Spring unfold outside my bedroom window, as it has each year before. Yet the mystery of the changing seasons never fails to puzzle me. Life coming from death? It seems so illogical.
And yet it happens in the Paschal mystery, as well. Death is followed by resurrection. The apostles have heard the good news of Easter, yet they are frequently in hiding, doubting, or not recognizing Jesus among them. They are fearful for how their lives will change, what the Resurrection means to them. They are not able to fully accept the present life they are being invited to live through Jesus. Even though they have heard the good news brought by Easter, they maintain the fear that prevents them from entering fully into this new life.
This year, I have found myself fearful and unsure of my ability to accept the challenges in my own life. I have a very difficult time trusting - I want to be in control, to anticipate outcomes. Some days I want to be able to just check items off of my numerous to-do lists. Through life in community with twelve other people and among the ever-unpredictable client and volunteer behavior at a legal aid clinic, I have repeatedly been reminded that I am not in control. The pressing demands of each day make things go much differently than I planned, or ever could have even imagined. These are the invitations to a life much richer than I could ever plan myself. We are called to be open to these lessons and growth. However, sometimes I am not open to the gift of the moment, afraid of how things may turn out, how others may perceive me, or how my actions could impact the life of a client in need.
We are called to live courageously and to trust that maybe we are more equipped to face our present circumstances than we might know. I must remind myself that I am not facing each day alone. No matter how difficult it is to trust and admit that I am not in control, the spirit continues to work through me, even when I am not aware of it. Over time, the fear subsides. Coming home after a long day of work is not daunting because our house is still getting to know one another, but it becomes comforting, even a source of joy. Work becomes more than just a place to spend 40 hours each week, but I can recognize the supportive community has formed there, sharing in struggles and successes.
The challenge posed to the apostles after Easter, and the challenge I found myself facing along with them throughout this year, is: How can I accept the changes in my life? How do I properly mourn for what has been lost? Even though experience tells me otherwise, it does not make it any easier to trust that spring will in fact come after winter. I have seen it happen each year, but I still struggle to let go of the fear and accept the invitations to grow in new ways.
Each morning, we are faced with the choice of waking up, facing our fears and making a conscious decision to recognize, accept, and celebrate life all around us. There will be challenges, and things may not go as planned. We must trust that our experiences, both good and bad, will all lead to growth. Personal growth, professional growth, growth in community, and growth in love.