Thursday, February 3, 2011

Discerning "The Next Step" while walking in the present.

In my last entry, I briefly mentioned figuring out "The Next Step." In the past few weeks, I have been frantically Google searching where I want to go in August. I mulled over many options in the months since I've been here (Graduate program for some kind of professional writing, Seminary, more volunteering, etc.)  Right now, I  am thinking about doing a program through AmeriCorp next year where I would mentor kids in reading and facilitate various after school programs for them. I want to go live somewhere new (California is first on my list).  I am continually praying and looking at all my options to see where I am needed most.

At the famous establishment Tipitinas seeing a real Mardi Gras Indian perform!

It's funny how God works. The more I search and discern and ponder what will happen next year, the more I am brought back to my present life in New Orleans and how much this experience is defining where I go from here. After all, it's hard to build a future without looking around and seeing what's making you happy now.  I have fallen in love and grown quite attached to the people here and can feel that New Orleans spirit that's about as loud and joyous as the brass bands that were born inside the city walls. Mardi Gras hasn't even begun!

This is Leslie, the adorable 2nd grader I tutor twice a week through the STAIR program.

The reason I want to spend a year focusing on mentoring and helping kids who are struggling with reading is because I have discovered how much I love tutoring. I tutor a 2nd grade girl named Leslie twice a week through the STAIR program. We read books together and work on basic literacy and reading comprehension skills. It can be particularly challenging at times and takes a great deal of patience but the rewards are wonderful. I love seeing a smile light up her face when I tell her she's going onto the next reading unit and cherish the overwhelming sense of accomplishment when she finally writes a sentence correctly that we've been working on together. I enjoy finding creative, interesting ways to get her to learn concepts. Making even the smallest difference by forming a positive relationship with this little girl has been a highlight of my time spent in New Orleans.

My roommate Tasha and I with our Mentors, Shirley and Catina, who both attend Faith Pres!
Furthermore, as I step back and look at the big picture of my present life, I realize I am lucky and blessed beyond believe to be a part of two unique, wonderful church congregations. These people are teaching me that it's not about doing every little thing right, it's not about being superwoman. It's about being here, being apart of these people's lives and binding my struggles with theirs, it's about presence and it's about listening (the real kind of listening that involves empathy and understanding), it's about learning things I never thought I would and challenging myself to be a part of something bigger, it's about putting my whole heart into everything I do and trusting God with everything I have. It's the feeling I get when I hear Pastor Jayne's voice leading the homeless men, women, and children in the song, "Standing in the Need of Prayer." It's about the genuine hug and smile I get from Pastor Ron as soon I walk in the door at Faith. It's the laughter of my roommates when one of us breaks the ice cream scoop in half. Oh yeah. And it's about love.  Love love love. A whole lot of love. 

And that love is not always easy. I have found that community is not something to be taken lightly, for it makes a deep mark on our hearts and people's struggles are becoming as real to me as they are to those who suffer from them. Frustration consumes me at not being able to do enough for those around me, to do it right, to fix it, to make it better. But as I search for the answers, the "next steps" in my own life, the right things to do for others, I bring myself back to here, back to now, back to God. I am but one small instrument in this orchestra of humanity. And as Rob Bell says in one of his inspirational videos, it's not a question of what song you are playing, it's about whether or not you are in tune.


"May you come to see that the song is written on your heart. And as you live in tune with the song, in tune with creator of the universe, may you realize that you ARE in relationship with the living God."
-Rob Bell

1 comment:

  1. Katie, you always have a knack for really getting into the heart of whatever your writing about at the moment. What I find even more incredible is that you always seem to write about something that either myself or someone I know is working out as well. You're an amazing woman, and I hope you realize that your blog is doing for your friends around the world what you are doing in New Orleans this year: bringing our focus back to God.