I write a lot. I write in my various journals multiple times a day. I write letters to family and friends who are far away. I write notes on things I come across hoping they might help someone with something someday (sometimes I even hoard letters that I write to friends). Mostly I write narratives, sometimes in bullet points, occasionally in poetic form, or on those days when sentences do not make sense, I just write words. I write about moments, videos, actions, articles, ideas, quotations, feelings, pictures, memories, love, prayers, truth, God, and faith; well, really I guess I write about “life”. I used to keep a blog and I used to share my other writings, but I have grown more private, realizing that it is easier to keep these things close to me. My faith journey was on that same semi-isolationist path until this year.
I pray a lot. I pray at all times of the day. I see God as this all-encompassing force that surrounds me, breaks me, keeps me, loves me, challenges me, and makes me whole. I pray to thank Him, to ask Him for help, to question Him, to question life, to praise the wonder of His world and creation, and on those tough days to remind myself that He is all-encompassing, because some days I get really lost and forget. I pray about what I write about “life.” I used to think that prayer had to be formal (you know, Hail Marys, Our Fathers, Glory Bes...), but I found that that did not cut it for me and my spiritual relationship with God--I thought maybe Catholicism had it all wrong.
I explore a lot. There is so much more that I want to write about, to pray about, to understand about “life.” I also start a lot of explorations or projects and forget about many of them. I say this because for a while I considered my faith and spirituality to be projects (and rightfully so) because, for most of my college years, my spirituality was something I actively explored primarily through (you guessed it) projects. I minored in religious studies, joined prayer groups, attended Muslim Student Association activities, explored Asian religions, attended services at different Christian and non-denominational churches, sat on spirituality committees, attended and led retreats, volunteered domestically and while I studied abroad, led a spiritually driven humanitarian aid group, practiced yoga regularly, and still attended weekly Catholic Mass. I started and stopped a lot of these exploratory projects and decided that maybe one really big exploratory project just might be the ticket to solving my issues with spirituality and Catholicism: a post-baccalaureate year serving as an Augustinian Volunteer.
This year, I am starting to share a lot. Life as an Augustinian Volunteer is all about sharing, but not just about sharing stuff (money, cars, food, couches, etc). It’s about sharing my writings, my prayers, my explorations, and my projects so far. My Augustinian Volunteer year is about challenging the ways I have already tried to seek and opening my heart to live and understand how others (my community members, co-workers, students, friends, etc) seek. Through sharing my writings, prayers, and explorations in Ventura so far I have realized that although I may not be solid and sound in understanding just what my spirituality is, I still have something to share. This year has challenged my whole idea about what it means to be spiritual; It has allowed me to grow in my spirituality, to explore what it means to be faith-filled. This year has allowed me to keep writing. This year has allowed me to keep praying. And, most importantly, this year has allowed me to keep seeking what gives me life. Sometimes I still feel lost, but I have become comfortable in the fact that maybe I am just always going to be an “old-fashioned seeker.”
Sara Alison Hoegen
Ventura, CA 2012-2013