|Photo by Wayne Bremser|
I just gave up a free pilgrimage to Rome.
Maybe I should say it again, so it sinks in. I just gave up a free pilgrimage to Rome. They say there's no such thing as a free lunch (and indeed, on this trip I'd have to pay for my lunches), but this really was a free trip to Rome. A friend had bought her spot, and she found herself unable to go, and offered it to me. All I'd need to do is pay for my lunches and other incidentals on the trip, and clear my schedule for 10 days, and leave in two weeks. I'd also have to get a ticket, but, the lucky thing about working for the Church is that your boss flies to Rome on a fairly regular basis, and has more frequent flier miles than he can handle. He encouraged me to go, and even started to plan for work adjustments. Another friend who was going was thrilled at the prospect of having a companion. I studied the itinerary, then was distracted all day thinking about my budget, my calendar.
Millions of questions, objections, and justifications popped into my head: Could I do with only $200 spending money? Last time I went to Rome I had less...but I also didn't buy anything and ate only those little rolls with two slices of prosciutto. (But they were good rolls. And only 50 cents.) And what about the fact that 4 days after I come back I will be headed to California for a wedding? And I'd miss blueberry season? How would the summer projects that we have such little time to accomplish here in the office fare if I were to go? What about the two huge mailings that are supposed to happen those two weeks?
But I haven't been to Rome (or Europe) in 11 years! And I remember when I did go--for World Youth Day in 2000--that I thought to myself as I explored: one day I will come back and come to know all of this, intimately. I assumed it would be during college, and now, so long after, it still hasn't happened. How grand would it be to go, restore my mind, enjoy that bright, golden sun, see new things, pray.
I know you'll think I am an idiot, but it was realizing I'd miss blueberry season that I decided not to go. Not that I particularly love blueberries (though, goodness, I do), but they represent something that I want beyond the glamour of a European vacation. For years I've wandered rather aimlessly. That's not strictly speaking true: I've had good jobs and done good work, and paid my bills on time, and sought out new friends, places, and opportunities. But I had no real idea where I was going. Then last summer, I finally took the plunge, and started Jams by Mags. We had a wonderful first year, but this, the second is a real trial: I need to produce more, do it better and more efficiently, all while still learning so many things, and crafting the brand into something that can endure. And, though it was less about the money and more about the time, $200 certainly buys a lot of fruit.
The real point is: we have to work hard for our dreams, and give up a lot of truly good things to pursue them. I want Jams by Mags to succeed, and if I'm not willing to give up a trip to Rome for its future, then how will I be able to make the real sacrifices required of running a business. That I am giving up something so very good makes the sacrifice all the more heart-wrenching, but right. If this is my calling, if this is what I need to do, then I must pursue it.
Most people I have told this too have looked at me like I was crazy-sauce. And maybe I am. But Rome is the Eternal City, and will be there next year and the year after. And, if I'm lucky, maybe Jams by Mags will be there then too, or will send me there. Now's the time to work hard to make it so. Prosper the work of our hands, O Lord.