I walked up the makeshift stairway to the new JPII loft at Saint Isidore’s the other day, and I was greeted by several sets of smiling eyes going the opposite way. As I opened the door to laughter and banter, I couldn’t help but be amazed at the surprising reality: there is still life happening here. Somehow, between sheetrock walls and makeshift stairs, friendships are being made, spiritual hunger is being fed, and hearts are being cared for.
A time of construction does not mean life has to stop. Saint Isidore’s, with its stripped façade and upheaved landscape still supporting nightly games of ping-pong and daily Adoration, is physical proof that life is not to be put on hold during periods of growth, pruning, and development. We are called to be ever-striving for better, holier things, but perfection is certainly not a prerequisite for hospitality. If the doors were to close completely during this period of rebuilding, so much of the community that is fostered at Saint Isidore’s would be denied grounds to flourish (though the students and priests would somehow still find creative ways to cultivate life, I’m sure.)
It is a vulnerable thing to leave the doors of our heart open during times of interior reconstruction. So often, we fall into the mindset of private growth, “If I am struggling, no one can see. If I am healing, no one can know. I will share my story after I am out the other side.” I’ll be the first to admit: the jackhammer noises that bleed into the chapel at Saint Isidore’s are not pleasant, and the sheetrock hallways are less-than-glamorous. But I am beyond happy to be a part of the growth that this building and community are undergoing. The exquisite ceilings and comfortable spaces will be all the more lovely for having experienced the growing pains that brought them forth.
More than likely, your heart has some nook or cranny (or maybe an entire floor) that you’re allowing to be reconstructed during this Lenten season. Maybe it’s a habit you’re tearing down, a prayer routine you’re rebuilding, or a priority you’re shifting. No matter what the Lenten season calls us to remove, rebuild, or recenter, the process is hardly ever elegant. I can assure you, with the excavator outside of a lively Saint Isidore’s as proof, that there is still life to be had in the interim.
God is not waiting for your heart to become a picture-perfect mansion before He enters in. He does not step back, distant and disinterested, while you experience the pain of pruning alone. Instead, He sits with you among the noise of falling walls and crashing rubble. He builds new stairwells to access the heights of your heart. He furnishes old rooms with new love. He fills your rubble soul with the surprise of life.
Are the doors of your heart open to His life this Lent, or have you closed off the construction site of your growing soul from the Lord? I invite you, brothers and sisters, to allow life into your growing pains. Resist the temptation to close off your heart, mind, and soul to the Lord when it is not perfect and witness the life that flows from His involvement in your reconstruction plans!
Keeping the doors open at Saint Isidore’s has taken careful planning and dedication during each stage of development. Father Gale, Father Drew, and the Saint Isidore’s staff have worked tirelessly to come up with creative solutions for fellowship as familiar spaces become off-limits and current conditions of the pandemic make gathering tricky. Furniture has been hauled up flights of stairs, ping pong tables have relocated to accommodate for space, and offices have been graciously offered as study rooms. In short, welcoming others into a period of rebuilding is not easy.
Will you make the effort to let the Lord into your progress, not just your success, this Lent? Look for a new time to pray if last semester’s routine isn’t fitting in this period of life quite as well. Consider an Examination of Conscience at the end of each day to acknowledge both shortcomings and areas of growth. Find an accountability partner to challenge you in the pursuit of virtue or new habits.
I can assure you that He is ready, hardhat in hand, to create new spaces in your life and fill them with His love.
Kathryn Hurd is a senior studying strategic communications and anthropology at K-State. She's a maker, a walker, a butterfly-spotter, and a lover of a good children's book. You can read more of her words, ramblings, and random interests here.