-1-Have you ever walked a labyrinth? It's not a maze. There are no dead ends, no blind corners. Physically, it is a journey to the center and back to the place you began. Spiritually, it can be an experience of self-reflection and enlightenment, truly about the journey rather than the destination. So is discernment. My husband and I have been discerning God's will about where to live, whether to stay in upstate NY or move elsewhere. Originally, we had planned to move just a few miles away, to an area where the children and I could easily walk to church, a playground, the library, and grocery store. Then we began to reconsider.
-2-We spent a lot of time in prayer, weighing our options and on our knees begging God to direct us. At the end of that period, we thought God was calling us to leave NY. I was specifically drawn to the story of Gideon, a man who answered God's call very cautiously. Before beginning the task God placed on him, Gideon asked for very obvious signs. In that spirit, I asked God to use the sale of our house as a sign that we were headed in the right direction.
-3-My husband wanted to relocate based on evidence that there are locations where people are happier. In the first round of decision-making, we considered the following criteria: close enough to drive home in a day, low risk of tornadoes or earthquakes, minimal predicted water shortage in the next 50 years, homeschool laws, winter lows no colder than Rochester, and happiness ratings. We ended up deciding to move to Milwaukee, WI. I told people at the time, though, that this was all contingent on the house selling. I didn't want to presume I was certain of God's will.
-4-Our real estate agent was astounded that we weren't getting any offers. We were the most active of his properties for first showings, but had yet to book a second showing. We began to look around at other options. This time, we focused on healthy dioceses, as based on vocations to the priesthood and religious life along with number of new members through RCIA. We wondered why we hadn't thought to consider this aspect earlier. We decided to move to Harrisburg, PA.
-5-Earlier this week, we decided to move within the greater Rochester area. We've come back out of the labyrinth and are back where we started. Has Rochester changed? Only slightly. A new bishop has been assigned, Bishop Matano, who has a good track record of reviving a failing diocese within five years. We hope to see changes here in the near future.
-6-Mostly, though, we changed. The idea of moving to a happier place pushed us to be more conscious of our own negativity. Our willingness to uproot for the good of our mental health and our children's faith reaffirmed to each other our commitment to our family. Knowing that there are healthier churches out there has encouraged us that there is hope for our diocese and parish.
-7-The journey is not complete. We haven't decided where to move. We don't know whether to stay with our current parish and see how things change in the next few years or switch to a local parish known to be more what we want. We haven't sold the house. Like Gideon, we continue to ask God for a sign, confident that he will lead us. His will be done.
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