The Church Needs You - A Letter from Megan
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I write to you from a bed and breakfast in Portland, Maine. It is 7 am, and I am in that lovely time between waking up and sitting down to breakfast (which is my favorite meal).
Maine is not typical for me – I’m on a weekend trip with my dad to celebrate his 60th. There’s something about traveling that gives me a fresh perspective on who I am and where I come from that I just love. I become more aware of how people and experiences affect me, and how I influence a place or a community, how I can leave a mark. How often I take these experiences for granted when I am at home! How often I doubt my ability to make an impact in my daily life, my community, my Church – do you doubt the same?
When I read John Paul II’s Letter to Artists, my heart was filled with so much relief. I was struggling so much to see how the Church wanted me as an artist, let alone (as St. John Paul so lovingly points out in his letter) how it needed me. The idea that, as an artist, I reflect a particular image of God, who is the Divine Artist, was totally new to me. How incredible. Our God is all goodness, and to be an image of Him, of any of his qualities…wow. It was a moment when I realized that my value as a creator reflected the image of The Creator. I realized that an image of our God always has an inherent, unique, and indispensable value, even if other people didn’t see it or understand it.
This realization for me shed light on my role as a woman in our dear, beautiful Church. If the Church needed me as an artist, which is only one small part of my whole being in Christ, how could it not need me as a woman? Male and female He created them… womanhood embodies the image of God in an intensely unique and personal way.
Sister, at this point I would reach across the table (laden with coffee and freshly baked muffins) to take your hand and tell you that your Church needs you. And it needs you now! Not the “you” five years from now, not when you land your dream job, not you when you lose 10 pounds, not when you discern your vocation, not when you are holier, not when you’ve gotten life “figured out.” We need you now, in all the glory of Who you resemble. It is Christ’s Church, and you are the kind of woman He desires – not just for himself, but for his Church.
It’s been lovely to share my morning with you. Breakfast served here, and I am in need of more coffee, so it’s time to say good bye. Know you are in my thoughts and my prayers, sister.
Get to know Megan
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
I am a 23 year old gal who just moved from the Midwest up to Alaska to pursue some opportunities for art, including learning how to create Catholic icons and sacred art. In the mean time, I am piecing together bits of work teaching a couple community art classes, tutoring French, and working part-time at a local coffee shop. I love savoring a good coffee break, heart-to-heart conversations, reading cookbooks, going rock climbing, playing cello, and walking in beautiful places. My favorite smell is freshly baked bread and my dream is to bring a little beauty into the world every day.
What do the first two hours of your day look like?
I'm a morning person, so the beginning hours of the day are some of my favorite!. With my current work schedule at the coffee shop, my day starts off with breakfast, packing a quick lunch, and gathering whatever books/supplies I need for my day. I hop on the bus and head to work, where I get to share a bit of joy with our customers (many of whom are regulars, which is fun), make coffee, and drink coffee! Somewhere in the mix I make some time to pray, but now that I've been here for a couple of weeks, it's time to really carve out a more consistent routine of prayer in my morning.
Describe your favorite part of your current occupation.
This is a funny question to reflect on, because currently I'm not sure what my occupation is! The highlights of my working hours at the coffee shop are caring for the people who come in. In a small way, I can serve them, encourage them, rejoice with them, and hopefully provide an authentic and caring interaction for them. It's pretty cool. I also love when I get time to work with students in art or French!
Describe one fear or personal challenge that keeps you up at night.
Currently, I've been struggling with doubt about what God's will for me is, and my ability to achieve it. Especially with my art-making, it is really tempting for me to think, "Gosh, I lack so much direction and I have no idea what I'm doing, and I just moved across the country for this. Is God's will really in this?" But it's been beautiful to see, as I'm struggling through this insecurity, how God is teaching me, how he is simply asking me to try, and to trust him to shepherd me "beyond my wants and beyond my fears."
Tell us about the first time you experienced a strong sense of belonging in the Catholic Church.
I don't know if I would have classified it as "a sense of belonging" at the time, but looking back, I think it was while I was preparing for first Communion. I attended a few years of Catholic grade-school, and one day we went to the church to learn about the tabernacle and practice for the mass. I remember our tabernacle had an image of the heron picking its own flesh to feed its young, and our teacher explained to us the symbolism of receiving the Eucharist that was within this image. For me, I understood that I had a connection with the Church as a family united by an ultimate kind of love.
Tell us about a woman you look up to.
My mom is one of my best friends and a true role model in my life. Her perseverance in her own faith and her strength in sacrifice have taught me more than I can say. A little word of wisdom from her which I think everyone needs to know: Don't dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.
Favorite character ever. Go!
This questions is so, so difficult. After much deliberation, I'm going to have to go with Lucy Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia, more specifically the books. She is humble, but ready to be brave. She has a child-like trust in Aslan that allows her to see him and be known by him. I have learned much from her about being vulnerable with God.