Dear Frannies, we are all homebound now. Many of us are in self-quarantine and some of us are just waiting for this whole storm to blow over, whenever that will be.
It is hard for people to leave Austria when the normal semester is over, much less when the semester is unexpectedly cut in half. It is funny because I had started crossing off the days in red pen to make myself aware of how much time I had and to not waste a single day. I guess God knew what he was doing.
Leading up to the announcement, I finally went to Divine Liturgy on Tuesday, and later that day I finally ate a burger at the Kartause restaurant. On Wednesday, I walked out of Gaming and found a trail back to the Kartause. I ended up finding a gazebo that overlooked the Kartause at a distance, and it was peaceful and quiet. When I came back from my walk, I randomly joined a group of friends to get kebabs and make a Spar run to pick up a coffee roll for my Women’s Integrated Small Group that night.
On Thursday after class I wanted to take a nap, but my friend convinced me to go with her and a few other people on a hike to the waterfall. We balanced across a fallen log in the water, partially rock climbed the side of the foothill and went back and forth daring each other with the game What Are the Odds.
The Saturday before, I finally went to Anna’s café, something I had been pining to do most of the semester. That Sunday I joined the rosary walk and saw so much of Gaming on such a beautiful, sunny day!
My point is, I think God was preparing us for the end. People said they felt that they were already starting to transform halfway through the half semester we were given! One of my friends said that everyone who was looking for something, be it answers to prayers for his or her vocation and so on, had received what they had asked. It kind of felt like the transformation happened twice as fast in half the time.
No one can experience life in the same exact way as you. No one else will follow that same exact path as you, no matter how hard that person could try. Life is lived differently by every person and God knows what to do in each person’s life to make it work according to his will. Austria is typically a time of growth and transformation, and God knows how to form each semester so to form each person in an individual way.
That is what I think about in regard to my short-lived semester in Gaming. For whatever reason, God knew this was the semester we needed. He knew that our time in Austria would be enough for us. I do not necessarily think of it as God taking the semester away. I guess I think of it as him knowing how to make it work best for us.
Yeah, it is hard. On the plane ride back to the United States, I closed my eyes in an attempt to sleep and immediately saw the hallway from my room in the Kartause. It was like an image burned into my mind, typically something that happens after binge-watching a show or staring at something for too long. I was not even trying to think about it. It was just there. I started typing in my notes on my phone, describing how Austria was like a dream because we left it so fast. I cried the last hour of the flight over the ocean that separated me from the dream I had lived for two months, one that was ripped away as quickly as it came.
I remember telling my mom at the beginning of the semester that I was living my dream of traveling the world, one that I had since fifth grade. I remember being so thankful and incredulous that I was finally living that dream.
That dream is not over yet. Incomplete, yes, but not over. I have no idea when that opportunity will be, but I am not discouraged. I do not even know if it is God’s will, something I really learned this semester. However, he gave me this opportunity. He gave me Gaming. He gave me a way to travel the world and still seek him. Maybe this is his way of saying, “I showed you how. Now it is your turn to go out and do this on your own.”
We cannot always rely on a program or institution to show us where to find God in the adventure of life. At some point we have to do it on our own, but God will always be there to make sure we are going the right way.
Hopefully I will see you all in the fall! Until then, auf wiedersehen!