Sunday, October 16, 2011

the (other) emerald isle

Katrina's cupcakes celebrating girl's group

It's exciting times here in New Zealand. School's out on a brief holiday. The Rugby World Cup finals are being played in Auckland as I type. The region is astir over the Rena fiasco & cleanup. The girls group went ice skating for the first time. And Richard and I are letting our imaginations run wild pondering the future. 

Christine and I took the girl's group up to Auckland on Monday. Joseph Pio and Maria accompanied us while Bernadette stayed home to keep an eye on Rich. Our ambitions for the trip were boundless: Auckland Cathedral, ice cream, ice skating, Missionaries of Charity, One Tree Hill (of U2 fame), art galleries, the Victoria Street market and an overnight at the Tyburn complete with Bananagrams. We had wet-weather plans and dry-weather plans. We had altogether too many plans. 

After a slow, rainy drive up to Auckland and a beautiful sunny visit to the Cathedral, we only managed to squeeze in 90 minutes of ice skating before racing off to arrive at the Tyburn for dinner. Most of the girls had never skated before, including Maria. The older girls gave it a cheerful try and delighted in their falls. Maria beamed as I laced up her ice skates - but simply walking in them was impossible for her and she refused to even attempt to skate in them. Thank you so much to the very kind man who refunded her entry fee. Then off to another Tyburn.
chapel at the Bombay Tyburn

The Tyburn convent in Bombay was situated in as breathtaking a setting as the one in Rotorua (from a few weeks ago). We enjoyed the prayerful rhythms of the nuns' life interspersed with our wildly joyful exploration of their magnificent grounds. And it was alone in their beautiful little chapel that evening that I experienced profound peace as I contemplated the "next step" for the Sealy family....Ireland. 

Galway, to be precise. It just keeps coming up. In the past week I have met several people from Galway or with Galway connections. Through various sources this week I have repeatedly heard of the need in Ireland for youth ministers and teachers. Often in my life, these kinds of "patterns" have been the Lord's way of getting my attention and introducing me to an invitation He'd like me to consider. But I had not been thinking at all about going directly from one mission to another. Quite frankly the idea made my heart sink. I thought there'd be a bit of a break between missions. So I sat alone in that chapel and started praying through it and found - to my great surprise - peace. Profound peace. 

Rich has loved our mission experience so much that I just knew he'd be thrilled to discern another one. So I'd barely walked through the door of our house the next day when the whole Ireland thing tumbled off my tongue to Rich. He stared at me like I was insane. He mumbled something about Italy. He'd just spoken to his cousin who had told him that the US military was hiring youth ministers for the families of soldiers stationed in Italy. But he looked sort of like he had been run over by a tank. He kept looking like that for the rest of the afternoon. He went off to workout with Fr. Michael and came home talking about doctoral programs. At American schools, not Italian ones. And definitely not Irish ones. 

The point is, we still really have no idea what The Plan is. We keep getting asked about it, but we don't know what it is. We know who does, but He's not telling yet - and we're ok with that. There is really no rush; almost a third of our mission time still awaits us. Right now we're just trying to remain wide open and at peace. We're determined to enjoy the ride, to live in the present moment and fully experience the seven or eight months left without anticipating too much about what will come next. That might sound irresponsible, especially given the three little people who depend on us for meals. So I assure all that we are very much thinking, talking, praying, networking....but not fretting, worrying or living in the future. If we haven't learned by now that we can fully trust Divine Providence, I don't think we ever will. 

I don't know what that whole Ireland whirlwind was all about. Perhaps it was sheer craziness. Perhaps it's a seed the Lord is planting now, but not intending to reap until a later season of our lives. Perhaps it was Jesus asking me to surrender the whole of my plan to Him - and Him showing me a possibility that is wholly other than what I would have pursued - in order to impart a deeper peace and abandonment in my soul. If worked.  Bail ó Dhia ort.