Another World Youth Day has come and gone. Looking back at it, I can honestly say that I had an amazing experience. To be gathered with so many young Catholics from around the world gave me hope and energy. I felt inspired by Pope Francis’ words. I made some new friends, had some moving experiences, and created great memories.
Coming back to Canada, I had the initial excitement of getting to tell my family and friends about my pilgrimage, of reliving those great moments through the stories and photos that I’ve shared.
But now, nearly a month after the whirlwind that was World Youth Day, its back work, back to routine, and back to “real life”.
I’ve realized how many times others and I have used that expression: “Have you adjusted back to reality?” or “I guess it’s time to get back to real life”.
And somewhere in there I realized that there is no reason why what I experienced at World Youth Day has to be limited to that two weeks in Poland. There’s no reason why the hope, energy, and inspiration I got out of World Youth Day can’t be a part of my day-to-day reality here in Canada. And I realized that it’s up to me to make sure that I bring World Youth Day into my work, my routine, and my “real life”.
So here’s my plan: over the next few weeks, I’m going to reflect on one of the things that Pope Francis spoke about at the Saturday vigil that stood out to me and inspired me. He spoke about not letting others decide the future for us while we sit passively by. He said that God expects something of us, and when he calls us, he does not think of who we are or who we were, but at the whole possibility of who we can be. I do have a vision for the future that I want to build, and I want to become the best version of myself. The thought of building this future made me excited and gave me hope on that particular Saturday evening in Poland, but I can’t stay suspended in that time and place at Campus Misericordia forever. This is something I can only achieve within the context of my day-to-day life. So my goal is to keep Pope Francis’ words in the back of my mind to remind me to look for those opportunities at work, at home, within my family, or within my parish to build this brighter future that was presented to pilgrims at the vigil.
Now I’m sure this will be easier said than done; I’m sure I’ll lost sight of this goal more than once under the layers of all the other dimensions of my life. But I will try to keep coming back to these stand-out moments of my time in Poland, so that, instead of the highs of World Youth Day being an every-three-year fix, they can become a part of my “real life”.
Kiara Smyth is from Edmonton, Alberta leading the St. Dominic Savio World Youth Day group to Poland for Krakow 2016. Stay tuned to follow their journey from Edmonton to Krakow!
Chris Adamczyk/Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation