Why Wesley?: Reshmina William
We’ve heard from a lot of different people over the last few weeks about what Wesley means to them. Many people have said that to them, Wesley feels like “home”. For me, personally, the word that I would use to describe Wesley is “journey”.
To give you a little bit of context, I am not American. I was born in India, raised in Oman. However, I have been privileged to spend six of the most formative years in my life here in the US. Throughout those same six years, the community at Wesley has helped me to grow in my faith… and as a person.
When I am back home in Oman, one of my favorite things to do is to go to the beach, stand on the shore and look out at the ocean. When I was little, my dad showed me an atlas: he pointed out Oman and said, “There… that’s one of your homes”. Then he walked his finger across the blue swathe of the Arabian Sea to India and said, “And here’s the other”. From that day on, I used to think that if I stared just hard enough at the receding point and the wheeling gulls on the horizon, I might be able to make out my aunts, uncles and older cousins smiling and waving back at me from Kerala, across the vastness of the ocean.
I’ve thought a lot over the past six years about the strange congruence of events that conspired to bring first my parents and then me across the world. We are truly global – my extended family crosses five continents, and many more time zones. My journey has been a mixed bag: things that I have controlled and things I couldn’t; well-thought out choices, and spur of the moment decisions which drove my parents to distraction.
My journey has taken me to Champaign, and to this community here at Wesley. It’s been a continually evolving process, during which I have changed my ideas about my studies and interests, my understanding of myself and the world around me, and my relationships with other people. It’s not always been an easy road by any means. There have been many times when I have felt lost, sad and afraid. Homesickness has been a problem at times. So has stress – the type of stress that makes you want to curl up in bed with a family-size bag of doritos and cry. Throughout my journey, Wesley has helped me through the bad times and given me the chance to look back and be humbled even when things are going well.
The friends and family I have found here at Wesley are my safe harbor during a lifetime of near-constant motion. Knowing that you have a safe place to return to is what keeps you grounded, and reminds you that there is a shore on the other side of every ocean. However, Wesley has also been a key driver in encouraging me to keep exploring and learning. The people of faith I have met here at this church, and the acts of social change they take with them into the world, continually challenge me to set out on to the sea once more. My journey has taken me to still more far-flung corners of the world, and inside my own heart and head. Through Wesley, I’ve found a support group of like-minded graduate students who can help me to grow both spiritually and academically. I’ve learned what it means to serve others, what it means to be a leader, what it means to listen and to advocate… and even what it means to be a wife and partner. I’ve learned that I have a lot more to learn before I can really begin to understand why I am here, where I am going, what my purpose is… and that I’m truly excited to continue doing so for as long as I live. I’d like to conclude with a prayer that I heard for the first time here at Wesley. This prayer is attributed to St. Brendan, a 5th century Irish monk was also sailor, a shipbuilder and explorer. This is what he prayed:
Help me to journey beyond the familiar and into the unknown.
Give me faith to leave old ways and break fresh ground with You.
Christ of the Mysteries, I trust You to be stronger than each storm within me.
I will trust in the darkness and know that my times, even now, are in your hand.
Tune my spirit to the music of heaven, and somehow, make my obedience count for you.