Guest blogger Mariko Kisada Kinikin, a member of the A Nun’s Life community, writes the first in a series of three blog posts on “Road Trip Retreat.” We invite you to journey along with Mariko and consider the “road trip” retreats and landmarks of your life.

Part 1 – Philalaska

I embarked on this trip a year ago, wondering how a girl from Alaska ended up getting a job offer and leaving the next day for Philadelphia.  I kept coming up with signs from God, I received a “divine word” from a “prophet” in a tent at the State Fair.

The year turned out to be not what I had imaged at all, and at the end of that year, I was back in my car heading north to Alaska.  I don’t listen to music or the radio, so I had ample time to think, reflect, and ponder … and pray.  I had prayed for this move back to Alaska … is that why I got to go back?  I had others pray for me.  I attended Mass and lit candles.  I volunteered for stuff and recycled and donated money and goods.  Did that earn me my trip back to Alaska?

As I drove the thousands upon thousands of miles, it became clearer to me that it wasn’t the rosaries that were said, it wasn’t a sign that I acted upon, it wasn’t because I had toiled in agony for so long that I had earned it.  It was simply that what I was being led back to was my life’s vocation.  I can’t pray for it, I can’t follow signs, I can’t ask others to put me there.  What you are meant to do, God will place you there.  Not really sure why I had the year hiatus in Philadelphia, but I know that I am back on the right track, living and working in rural Alaska.

I had ample time to reflect during my journey, so please join me as I share some insights from the road in this blog series.

Hospitality

PhilalaskaOne of the best parts about roadtrips is experiencing hospitality.  That’s  when you really get to see God manifested in random people.  I met up with friends, with friends of friends, with random family of random friends, with nuns, and with friends of nuns.  I stayed with them, dined with them, laughed with them and prayed with them.

Sometimes I feel guilty, that I am taking more than I am giving.  How can I pay it forward?  Will I be able to “pay it forward” now that I am living in rural Alaska?  Pay your hosts with kindness, with engaging conversation, with laughter, and with interest in all their family pictures.  Pet their dog, eat the things from their garden, and don’t forget to put the seat down.

Meeting all these wonderful friends, families, and nuns makes me so happy to be part of a community like A Nun’s Life.  Whoever thinks that humanity is doomed needs to take a road trip and discover the innate goodness of people, as you bounce from friend to friend, every interaction a recommendation given in love and hope from a friend far away.

If you want to know Jesus, he lives in little suburbs, stays up late watching game shows, picks tomatoes from the garden, has a leaky faucet in the bathroom, keeps three different kinds of cereals in the cupboard, and most importantly, he keeps waving until your car turns the corner and heads to the next town.

Nun Note: Watch for Mariko’s next blog post on Tuesday as she continues her journey home to Alaska.

UPDATE: Here are links to the remaining two posts:

We’d love to hear your reflections on this “road trip retreat” … what thoughts pop up for you? Any similar stories or aspirations?