Caribbean Dreams: Bold adventures, surprise homecomings

By Christina Capecchi
Twenty Something

The phone call came when I was boiling sweet corn – suppertime on a hum-drum Sunday whose excitement peaked with a trip to the grocery store.

It had been months since I’d spoken with my college friend Wendy, but she skipped right over the small talk: She’s moving to St. Croix.

When I heard St. Croix, I thought Wisconsin and the river I’ve fished with my brother. But Wendy had been thinking much bigger, she clarified: the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The life she had planned for herself – a comfortable one in a quiet Iowa suburb lined with sidewalks, strollers and swing sets – no longer fit. Motherhood, she had come to discern, is not her vocation. This was a startling realization, one she had arrived at with frequent prayer and utter honesty.

A series of events that seemed divinely orchestrated led to her this juncture, beginning Memorial Weekend when she was laid up with a broken arm. Restlessness made her heart throb and her fingers tingle, sending them to the keyboard and a Google search for job openings in – of all places – St. Croix, some 2,500 miles from her current residence.

I Googled it too to brush up on my geography. The map showed a tiny island surrounded by blue. Puerto Rico. Images of scuba diving, horseback riding and white beaches. An hour’s flight from Caracas, Venezuela.

It was time to take a leap of faith, Wendy told me. Time for an adventure.

Sunday night rolled around – dishwasher loading, Netflix, Etsy – and I couldn’t stop thinking of St. Croix. I felt a jolt of inspiration, and somewhere folded in Wendy’s news, should I acknowledge it, a challenge.

Couldn’t we all use the push to finally do the thing we’ve always wanted to do? Couldn’t we all use the audacity – that place in the heart where blood pumps in equal measures of courage and impatience – to go ahead and do it?

My early 20s brought me across the globe with friends, with family and for journalism – from Kilkenny, Ireland, to Ketchikan, Alaska. Praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. Strolling through Venice on a wet, ethereal night. Embracing the pope in St. Peter’s Basilica.

But part of young adulthood is letting the slow tilt of maturity carry your feet to the ground, like a teeter totter nearing the grass. It’s figuring out where to put roots. Holding onto your adventurer’s heart while making room for responsibility.

I’ve been thinking about new beginnings, which you can almost smell in September, with all the back-to-school possibilities – sharp-tipped crayons, blank notebooks and mighty resolutions.

New beginnings can come in surprising forms – and sometimes they lead you back home, allowing you to recognize the beauty that was always in your midst. The late Eleanor Boyer, a New Jersey Catholic who never married, was given a new shot in 1997, when, at 72, she won the lottery. Immediately she knew how to spend her $11.8 million winnings: She gave it away – half to her parish, half to her hometown.

“No new car, no vacation,” Eleanor told The New York Times. “My life is no different. I’ve given it up to God. I live in his presence and do his will, and I did that from the start.”

My commitments mean I won’t be adding a stamp to the passport this year, so I’m contemplating adventure in the broadest sense – from the life of the mind to the spiritual life, exploring new corners of my God-given talents and embracing glimpses of grace.

I’m pushing myself to find compelling ways to tell other people’s stories, all while writing my own story. One day I will appreciate how God brought each chapter together, marked by a generosity that knows no bounds.

Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn., and the editor of SisterStory.org.

 

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