Posted May 6, 2010
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I can’t believe it but this is my last week in Austria! Oh, what a year this has been! I feel like it has just flown by but when I think of all the things I have done I realize that it has filled a whole entire year!
I can honestly say that this has been the best year of my life. I have grown so much, experienced so much beauty: the beauty of different countries and cultures, the beauty in the art I’ve seen in grand churches and cathedrals, the beauty and richness in the history of our faith and our Church.
I have met so many people from all around the world and have seen the truth that we are all so intimately connected, that we have the same dreams and fears and aspirations, that we are created good!
I have seen the universality of the Catholic Church: the Mass is the same whether I am in Greece or Ireland or France or Bosnia. I have seen my faith truly come alive and deepen through pilgrimages to Rome, Assisi and Lourdes and also by visiting the tombs of saints like Therese of Lisieux and Maria Goretti. I have found God in the energy and excitement of St. Peter’s Square in Rome and also in the peacefulness of a midnight holy hour in the small Eucharistic chapel here in Gaming.
This morning, I got up early to go on a hike on one of my favorite mountains here in Gaming. I have hiked that mountain so often but it never fails to take my breath away. In the fall the trees are painted with the deepest reds and oranges and yellows as the leaves slowly change from their verdant summer green. In the winter the white, unblemished snow sits heavy on the bare branches of the trees, creating an unmatched winter wonderland. However, the spring has been my favorite because under all the dead leaves that line the side of the trail, white and purple wild flowers push their heads toward the sky as if to say there is more here than the death of winter, there will always be new life!
This morning as I made the assent up my beloved mountain I was once again captivated by the beauty and majesty of it all – this truly must be the most beautiful place in the world. I was getting nostalgic at the thought of leaving and I had an inclination to want to stay here forever. About half way up there is a ledge and you can look out over the whole town of Gaming, the sun was shining and the birds were chirping and it was picturesque. Then I felt like God was saying to me “Emily, even thought this has been such an amazing experience, I have so much more planned for your life. You would miss all that if you were to stay here forever.” And He is right, there is so much more to do. For one, there is still so much more to do here.
Tonight the faculty and staff are making us an American breakfast for dinner (something we haven’t had in months!) because tomorrow we start our finals! Then, next week, the day our finals finish, we have our Austrian ball. The school rents dirndls and lederhosen (Austrian costumes) and they hire a dance instructor to come and teach us some traditional Austrian dances. Afterward, they play American music, which will be good to hear again!
The following day we will have to pack up everything because that evening there is a bonfire and a midnight Mass and then at 3:00 a.m. the busses leave Gaming and take us to the airport and then we are off on the adventure of getting home.
Although it is bitter sweet, I do know that God has so much planned for my life, so many more adventures, so many more experiences I know that I would miss if I remained here. That is something I would like to leave with you too: no matter where you are now, know that good things are ahead, right around the corner. Don’t be sad for what you are leaving behind but rather press on joyfully to the future, for Heaven lies ahead and so there is no need to fear where we are going. You might not be entirely sure but trust in the Lord and know that He has many good things for you!
Be assured of my prayers for you, Emily