(Almost) 41 year old me to 20 year old me

My nephew (the baby in this 1992 family photo) turns 22 today. I was 20 when this photo was taken (I'm the one with the glasses).  This crazy realization got me thinking about my 20 year old self verses my (almost) 41 year old self.

Yes I have more grey hairs, wrinkles, scars, and some extra pounds.  Yet I also have much less anxiety which weighs you down more than you'd ever know unless you have had anxiety as a travelling companion in life on a regular basis.

When this photo was taken I was finishing up my sophomore year in college, studying political science.  I had no idea what I would be doing with my life when I graduated.  I ended up of course with an 11 year stint as a bureaucrat before making the unexpected leap and entering religious life. Now I'm studying Theology and Ethics. I have no idea what I'll be doing with my life "career" wise.  What I do know is that I am a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace and my life and community will be rooted and grounded in that reality for the rest of my life. That my friends is a wonderful feeling, even if there are many unkowns up ahead.

I'm wearing my first pair of eye glasses in this photo.  I've had many prescriptions since as my eye sight has shifted and worsened.  Truth be told I now need a reading prescription in addition to corrective lenses.  But in many ways, I see the world much clearer now. My lived experience to date, the things I've learned and the people I've been honored to meet have given me a much better understanding of the world, systems, etc... Yet, I also know and accept that really I do not know much of anything.

The me in this photo wasn't so sure about God or that Jesus guy.  She'd given up on organized religion as unable to answer her questions and complicit in much of the suffering in the world.  The me writing these words today still has questions, more probably, and still has problems with suffering in the world.  But I also realize that for me at least it makes more sense to bring my questions to community, to share and hold that messy tension with others and to open my heart to God and God's people. Do I have all the answers? By no means.  But the life of faith is less about knowing or believing in my experience and more about risking and vulnerability and joy and wonder and awe.

20 year old me would probably fall on the floor laughing or snort her exacerbation at 41 year old me.  Yet here I am, wondering what 60 year old me will think about  (almost) 41 year old me in a few more decades.  Time certainly does pass quickly!

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