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Into The Fog

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Editor’s Note: Executive Director, Liz Hughes reflects on the trust required when facing the unknowns and uncertainties of daily life.

Last January, I was driving to St. Raphaela Retreat Center in Pennsylvania when I encountered a fog so thick I could barely see.  I was scared, claustrophobic, and wondering if I should pull over. As someone who longs for certainty and clarity, fog sure is my least favorite weather pattern.  I’m learning, however, that encounters with fog are simply invitations to trust. When my instinct is to resist or run, God’s invitation is often to sit in the discomfort and unknown, trusting that all will be well.  It’s a call that FMS missioners experience on a regular visit.  

This January, God provided me with a role model of that very trust.  While writing at a local coffee shop, I met a man experiencing homelessness.  He told me his story: a dissolved marriage, coaching youth basketball, significant health challenges, returning to coach the team against all odds, and then a second bout with homelessness.  His openness, trust, and freedom to God’s will in the midst of so much uncertainty made the fog feel much less intimidating.

I’ve heard that Pope John XXIII, no stranger to uncertainty during the Second Vatican Council and the turbulence of the Church in the early 60s, prayed the following before bed: “God, I’ve done everything I can for your church today.  It’s your church. I’m going to bed.”

This Lent, I march into the fog with the whispered prayers of Pope John XXIII and the man in the coffee shop.  I wonder what graces they asked for each morning to reach such surrender each night. I’ll never know, but I can only imagine that their morning prayers sounded something like this.   

Today, God, empty my hands of the tendency to cling

                                my heart of the desire to be loved and recognized for my deeds

                                my mind of my preconceived expectations and longing for certainty

                                my being of the fear of disappointing others

Instead, fill, my hands with an openness to freely receive your gifts and your love

                    my heart with courage to embrace the fog

                    my mind with wisdom to be an effective instrument of your will

                    my being with humility to accept that I cannot do everything but the ability

                   to be a step along the way.

Help me, God, to savor those I encounter today; to listen to what is said and to what is not said; and to be aware of your presence and guidance throughout the day.  Amen.

Reflection Question: In times of uncertainty how can you better trust in God’s providence?

Liz is thrilled to lead FMS. It is an honor to partner with individuals living and serving in solidarity with individuals in economically poor communities. Liz’s own mission commitment was shaped through serving as a 4th grade teacher in Birmingham, Alabama with the University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and later as a teacher in a bilingual Catholic elementary school in Juticalpa, Honduras.

Liz comes to FMS from the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where she served as the Director of the International Program for three years. Previously, she dedicated over a decade to serving in internationally focused positions with the U.S. government, including two years in Mexico City. Liz graduated with an M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame and a B.S in International Studies and Management from Boston College.

In her free time, Liz enjoys tutoring DC junior high students, learning languages, reading, exploring hidden gems of DC, traveling, retreats, and sharing time with family and friends. She is pictured here with her nephew, Benjamin!