First published by Catholic Volunteer Network, May 8, 2020
If I could give a title to my year of service thus far, it would be Wonder in the Unexpected. This year has brought me a new vision of the world, of who I am, and of what truly matters. What I expected this year to be and what I have experienced in the past have been quite diametrical to the adventures I’ve encountered this year (in the best way possible)! I thought it would be nice to share a bit of my journey through various pictures and words which express how my previous thoughts were transformed into a new reality full of beauty and wonder.
Before this year, I couldn’t imagine living in a place known for its arid climate, one where dust and sand swirl in the air more often than raindrops or mist. A place where I’d often skip to avoid the tiny cacti plants, instead of the rain puddles; and a place where I’d live amongst the succulents and not just the succulent posters!
Before this year, I dreamt of walking for miles under the stars—my only compass. Taking in the quiet wonder of the galaxies and watching for shooting stars above my head… But maybe there is a different kind of joy and a different kind of adventure found when walking for miles on the stars—the next Hollywood actress—my only guide!
Before this year, I couldn’t imagine living in a place where street lights and car lights were more pronounced than the moon shining above. Or how even on the hill of the Observatory, I would be more entranced by the views of the City of Angels than the city of constellations.
Before this year, I never really appreciated citrus or its many culinary uses. I didn’t know how much joy those brilliant yellow lemons or those radiant golden oranges would give me as I passed them on my daily walks. And I definitely couldn’t imagine walking into my backyard to find a tree brimming with oranges… Ever so fragrant with their poignant sweetness, I picked a heaping bag full.
Before this year, I imagined my runway to be the neighborhoods of Orange or maybe even a trail at the local county park. I never imagined the quite literal runway! The one where crowds gather and cameras flash to see who’s modeling the latest designer’s fair-trade clothing. And certainly not even the runway found in the pristine Mojave Desert: full of cool, golden sands glistening with the rays of the rising sun.
Before this year, I couldn’t imagine feeling the wonder and awe found not only in the grandest of places but also the simplest of places. The wonder of meditating on the brilliance of God reflected in one of His masterpieces full of every color and every rock formation imaginable. The awe of knowing that God is present there, and also present as my next-door neighbor within our simple house chapel.
Lastly, before this year, I couldn’t have imagined the wonderful women I would get to call my housemates and fellow St. Joseph Workers. These women have shown me generosity in love, joy in presence, and peace in simplicity. Sharing in these special moments, even if they mean singing and dancing in front of crowds (which I wouldn’t say are talents of mine), have grown my vision of the world and transformed the communities we serve.
Thank you to Orange, Thank you to the St. Joseph Worker Program, and Thank you to the Sisters of St. Joseph for sharing in all these marvels with me. You all have turned the unexpected into something I beautifully anticipate with wonder.