Editor’s Note: DCSC volunteer Madeline McKissick shares her experience from a recent Formation Session, reflecting on her time thus far within the program. She welcomes the pause that comes with stopping and recognizing the moments that have formed her into who she is. 

Every week, DC Service Corps attends a Tuesday session where we gain some form of spiritual, personal, or professional development. Typically, these sessions take the form of hopping onto a Zoom call to listen to a guest speaker, but on May 4, we did something a little out of the box (or should I say, out of the Zoom frame.)

We piled into the van with Julia, our house manager, and drove to Rock Creek Park. Once we were there, Julia gave us a few questions which prompted us to reflect on the program year so far and to look forward to these last three months with Franciscan Mission Service. She gave us an hour to sit with these questions before we would discuss them later at dinner together. While reflecting in Rock Creek Park, some of us took walks, some of us reclined on the ground and journaled, and others sat and contemplated.

I walked a stone’s throw away from where we gathered and sat down on a rock beside the creek. As silly as it sounds, I found literally the most perfect rock to sit on. It was big enough and flat enough for me to sit comfortably on it and watch the creek’s flowing dance. As I began my time of reflection, I couldn’t help but think that God put that rock there for me. When He created and placed that rock however many years ago, He knew that I would eventually come to rest on it. He knew exactly when, and He knew exactly how I would come: a little tired and somewhat overwhelmed.

This thought segued into the next memory to surface. I was reminded of how God’s plan for me perfectly unfolds and how He guides me throughout my life. I remembered the anxiety of moving to DC. Prior to beginning my year of service, I couldn’t shake my fear of leaving my comfort zone in pursuit of  the unknown. I didn’t find peace until God reminded me that He was leading me to DC for a reason. When I surrendered and trusted in Him, He calmed my heart enough for me to take the next step in my journey.

As I watched the creek bubble and dance along, I let myself get lost in my thoughts. Its consistent song was the background noise for the memories that flooded my mind. Listening to the creek reminded me of the lively conversations and playful moments that I shared with my community over the past nine months. I remembered and treasured our hours of playing board games, talking around the table, sitting on the porch, dancing in the basement, and doing nothing at all. Like the water flowed over the rocks, one thought led to another, and every memory reminded me of another one. I lost track of time as I let my mind wander. 

Remembering that God brought me to DC for a reason, I found myself thanking Him. I thanked God for leading me to DC and Franciscan Mission Service, and I thanked Him for everyone I met and for everything I did here. I smiled as I thought of how He planned for everyone in my community to meet and become friends, and I expressed my gratitude for His goodness and providence.

Moving forward, I want to set aside more time to think. I felt so much peace sitting on my rock, watching the creek, and contemplating on the past several months of life. I was able to let go of my concerns about the present so that I could reflect on the past. I plan to be more intentional about unpacking my thoughts and memories with God. With this practice, I’ll find more peace and I’ll recognize God’s hand in my life.

Reflection: Take a moment to think about the past several months, or reflect on the year so far. What memories surface? Where have you felt God in them?