“So, what else are you majoring in?”
I can remember this frequent rejoinder, and the looks of bewilderment that accompanied it, from the numerous occasions on which I was asked about being a music major at Penn. I would calmly explain that no, I didn’t plan on going into the record industry, and that no, I didn’t hope to combine my interests in music and health into a career in music therapy. Growing up with two academics, and specifically two deeply spiritual academics, I came to value from a young age the idea that the beauty and complexity of God’s creation was a worthy thing to pursue in and of itself. I felt content in my decision to study music, because to me it represented not only a fascinatingly varied form of artistic expression, but also a means of tapping into human values and culture.
I proudly thought that I had escaped the lurking pre-professionalism at Penn, spending my academic career focusing on all facets of music, and my extracurricular life involved in activism and the local Episcopal church. But then I graduated. My years of knowing exactly what would happen next were over and the openness of the world seemed more terrifying than exciting. I had been interested in veterinary medicine as a possible career for years, and suddenly it hit me that if I wanted to embark on a career path that required another four years of school, I had better get started soon. I ran blindly towards this goal, shutting out any voices of doubt and any thoughts that perhaps I should slow down.
We have been talking a lot during Carla’s sabbatical about catching one’s breath. To me, this act embodies the difference between worldly values and God’s values. The world tells us that we need to plan for the future, to be prepared for natural disasters, to find jobs that ensure financial security. Matthew 6:34 tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Now, anyone who knows me will tell you that I do hardly anything but worry about tomorrow. And it’s not entirely unwarranted – current events provide plenty of daily cause for alarm. As a Christian, however, I believe that I must take a step back from these worries and listen for what God is telling me is important. I need to stop running blindly and start walking with all my senses ready to hear what God is asking me to do.
As I prepare to serve as a YAV (Young Adult Volunteer) in the upcoming year, I hope to spend a good deal of time catching my breath in prayer and discernment. I hope to focus on the tug on my heart towards service, while at the same time listening for where God is leading me. I hope to live simply, setting aside my worries about the future. Again looking to Matthew 6, “But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Heather Gerrish is a young adult “child of the church” who sings and solos with our choir and taught Sunday School this past school year. She is bound for Arizona in the coming year to take part in the Tucson Borderlands YAV. National YAVs are asked to raise a minimum of $3,000 to help offset room & board expenses. If you would like to contribute, you can write a check to GPPC with “Heather Gerrish YAV” in the memo line.