MILLER: Surrendering in the midst of transition

January 10, 2023

(Photo courtesy of Timothy P. Schmalz)

There is a sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz called “A Quiet Moment” that my students introduced me to several years ago. It is an invitation into the heart of the Holy Family, into the embrace of St. Joseph, who holds our Blessed Mother, holding Jesus. The simplicity of the Holy Family in the quiet moment of an embrace has richly blessed my prayer life in intimacy and being truly home.

This past Advent, I shared this image with our RCIA class at the University of Houston Catholic Newman Center. The responses of the young adults were so rich. The image invited them into deeper intimacy in their relationship to the Holy Family. Even though they knew the story of the Holy Family well, they realized that there is always more to grasp. It was exciting and refreshing to see them being inspired and touched in a new way.

When I moved back to Houston in 2016, I joined the Charis Retreat Team, where we planned the annual young adult retreat that focuses on transitions. It became apparent and so clear that transitions are an everyday part of our pilgrim journey home. We are in constant transition, whether we realize it or not. Transitions are always challenging, but they provide an opportunity to abandon and surrender ourselves as a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is a disposition of the heart that let’s go to allow God to work in our lives.

This past August, I transitioned to a new job as campus minister at the University of Houston Catholic Newman Center. I was leaving the “home” of the students and families I served for many years at St. Martha in Kingwood and transitioning into a new community. Keeping my gaze on Christ and my home in the heart of the Holy Family, I trusted that the Lord was leading the way. On my first day at the Newman Center, I noticed a sign on the wall that welcomed all to their home away from home.

Next to this was a handmade sign, beautifully calligraphed, with my name on it, welcoming me home. I was touched deeply by these loving gestures of welcome and invitation by name. The Lord was loving me through these young adults, welcoming me home, and telling me I belong. I felt like I was at the heart of the Holy Family statue.

And so, I open the invitation to you in this New Year to allow God to speak fresh to your heart. He may speak through a piece of art, a Scripture you know so well, or a sign on a wall welcoming you home. In this New Year, I hope all of us find new ways to be God’s instrument to draw people home to His Love, His Heart, the Heart of the Holy Family, our Family, and our Church.

Salisha Miller is as campus minister at the Catholic Newman Center at the University of Houston.