Empty & Happy
The middle of the three months of Crossroads, we were told in training, would be the hardest. No kidding. Even if the refrigerator and the catalytic converter in the RV hadn’t broken, the air conditioner and the coolers didn’t leak, even if we didn’t end up driving in Chicago traffic and walking in Chicago ghettos, if water and Diet Coke didn’t spray everywhere when we’re running late, if there wasn’t construction and bad shoulders on almost every road we walked down, if the mosquitoes and ticks didn’t mob us, this middle month would still mean the inevitable dryness that comes when novelty wears off and the road ahead seems unending.
The natural (and certainly easiest) reaction is to get discouraged. But this week, as I was trudging along half-heartedly struggling to pray and to remember why I’m here, it struck me that there are really only two reasons to discouraged, and both are bad ones.
First off, I think we all get discouraged because we focus on the negative. As we were driving today, having missed the Mass we were supposed to go to because of a change in time zones, and on an endless detour, we drove by a billboard that said, ‘And yes, it can get worse!’, which made me laugh, because it’s what I always say when something goes wrong—the catalytic converter broke, but hey, the engine could have blown up! In the midst of the stream of frustrations and faux pas we’ve experienced more random hospitality than ever, and the joy of a one of the family members of our host family joining us for a week. The wildflowers have been better than ever and for some reason much craved bottles of cold water keep getting thrown into our laps.
The other reason for getting discouraged is that we’re not willing to give all. I often think, ‘I’ll give you this, but not that’, or ‘I’ll thank you for my friend, but not for that difficult person, or for the beautiful sunset, but not for the biting flies.’ Mother Teresa says that “Suffering is just the kiss of Jesus, beckoning you to come close enough that He can kiss you.” Then how much more should we thank Him for these periods of battle, of frustration and worry, because they call us to empty ourselves, so that we can be full of Him.
— Hannah DeRocher, Northern Walk ’13