“The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.” Whoever composed Psalm 121 was right on both counts. God guards our entrances and exits, not only into and out of this world, but throughout our lives.
Six years ago, I had no intention of working in a parish. Actually, I had little intention of working outside the home at all. Yet, in the midst of that very painful period of parish closings and consolidations, that is where I ended up. Impressed by the neighboring pastor’s support and concern for the people of my own parish, I was happy to help in the transition process. I took a job in sacramental formation and adult spiritual development at the parish that had been designated as the “welcoming parish” for the church we had been attending. Oddly enough, that merger never fully materialized. St. Florence was kept open, and almost all of her people returned. I, however, had become part of St. Maria Goretti’s staff. God, through a series of twists and turns, had placed me there.
In the six years I have served at St. Maria’s, I’ve been involved in just about everything I could be a part of. I’ve directed formation programs for first penance, first Communion, and confirmation; worked in adult spiritual development initiatives, planned liturgies, provided spiritual direction--and even made a few Communion calls. For the past three years, I’ve coordinated the music ministry and directed the choir.
About a year ago I asked God, as I do every year, if He wanted me to stay where I was or move somewhere else. I threw a few resumes out there--just to test the waters--and got no response. But I also heard that inner voice say that He would pick me up and move me like a cup. The image of a mug being moved from counter to table or vice versa remained in my heart.
This spring the cup moved, or rather God did. I had been contemplating trying to find a full time position, maybe even within the parish, when I received an email notice of a job opening that looked like an amazingly good match. It was the week before Palm Sunday. As anyone might suspect, Holy Week for music directors is like tax time for accountants. Busy doesn’t even begin to describe it. So I wrote a very cursory email and attached my resume. Within a couple of days I was scheduled for an interview, and in a couple of weeks, I was offered the position.
Now, as I prepare to finish off the choir year and my time at St. Maria Goretti, I am marveling at how and why and even that God moves. And while I begin to learn the ins and outs of my new position as an associate children’s editor with Pauline Books and Media, I am struck by the fact that God wastes nothing. He makes use of every stamp on our life’s passport towards some greater end, often one other and beyond what we imagine.
From the first day at the new job, God’s Presence was unmistakable. Coincidentally, I started on my name day, the Feast of St. James. My predecessor, who had actually been the editor of my own most recent book, had saved all my emails on her (now my) computer. And, a completed manuscript that was delivered to my office had been sent from an author who lived less than a mile from my childhood home in Ohio.
As we approach Pentecost, it is important to remember that the Spirit we hope to receive, the Divine Presence we long to experience isn’t static or still, but living and active. God’s Spirit moves in both history and in hearts.
The advice to bloom where you’re planted is always good. But following that advice doesn’t preclude the possibility of being transplanted. We need not reach for something else. We need not search out God’s will for us, or strain to answer His call. Our God knows how and where and when to move, and how and when and whether to move us. If we follow His Spirit step by step, our lives will not only travel down a path with Him, but glide across a dance floor.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is an author, speaker, musician and serves as Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield.