by Jen Owens
At the end of April, I moved from the East Coast to the West, to spend some time where I grew up before starting doctoral studies in Berkeley this fall. These past four weeks have been a whirlwind–dinner and dancing with my dearest friends in Cambridge, taking part in my brother’s wedding in San Diego, celebrating the wedding of two high school friends in Palm Springs, and a weekend with my girlfriends from college in Napa Valley. And now that I have a bit of time to rest after my travels, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the people in my life who make this week’s readings real to me.
These readings tell us how God loves us through the people we love and who love us in return. In all these places and in similar and different ways, I have seen how this is true. At my brother’s wedding, the priest reminded the congregation that marriage is the only sacrament which individuals bestow on one another, reflecting the love that God has for humanity. Witnessing the way that my brother and his new wife love each other and watching our two friends commit themselves to one another anew, I was in awe of the power that love has to change our lives, compelling us to share that love with those with whom we travel the journey.
I feel grateful to the people in these places whose love is helping me to grow into the person that God is calling me to become. To my friends in Cambridge, with whom I have studied and worked and played over the past four years–you have challenged me to think in new ways and to practice what I preach, and I celebrate the friendships that have grown as a result of our common calling. To my family–you have believed in me in times of self-doubt and supported me through burnout, and for this I continue to thank you. To the friends with whom I grew up–I cherish the memories we created as young people and look forward to making more in the days ahead. And to the friends I made at Loyola Marymount–your work in the world inspires me and the people you are give me permission to let my own light shine, and I anxiously await the times when we will see each other down the road.
For the people in our lives who make God’s love real to us, let us pause and offer a prayer of celebration and of gratitude. And as we embark on our summer adventures, let us share that gift with those we meet.
Jen Owens earns her Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, next month. This fall, she will began doctoral studies in systematic and philosophical theology at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.