A Vocation for Me?   Recently updated !

If I leave this Internship with nothing else, it will be the memories of people swept up by purpose. Seeing interns, project managers, and conservation stewards alike inspires me continuously. In my position, the opportunity to see the inner workings of a nonprofit, and the complex world of grants, partners, and funding has presented itself. Additionally, I get to take an inside look at the research, water quality monitoring, and long-term conservation goals of Shirley Heinze Land Trust.  Despite all these good things, I’ve come across an unsettling issue. The possibility of having a vocation has truly presented itself, and I could find myself swept up by a calling at any time. Vocation is an idea I had never seriously entertained. After all, I am easily contented and have always found happiness in my circumstances. If you had asked me at any other point in my life about vocation, I […]

Mountain Lessons: Exploring New Things in New Ways

From the moment I stepped off the Amtrak train in Leavenworth, WA I have been in awe of the landscape around me. The air is fresher, everything is green and taller than any building. The mountains rise up in every direction, completely surrounding us in the plain little valley where the Grünewald Guild is located. We’ve been here three weeks now and I still can’t get over the scenery. The mountains aren’t new to me, I grew up near the Sierra Nevadas, but this feels so much more impressive and wild. They seemed almost too surreal at first. Everywhere I turn it looks like I’m looking at award-winning photos of landscape, it’s hard to believe how extensively beautiful Washington is.   While my main goal for this summer was to form new community relationships through service (and I have absolutely done that), my second goal was to explore and learn. […]

Finding Beauty In The (Controlled) Chaos

 As I walked into my first staff training and orientation session of my placement, I immediately noticed the passion and drive that the leadership of Camp Lakeside (and by extension Opportunity Enterprises) have for their work. I was excited to join a team that truly cared about the work that they do, as well as the service that they are providing to the community. That being said, the camp environment is one that can be hectic and overwhelming, which was evident even in the orientation process weeks before the wild ride officially started. Camp Lakeside’s main objective is to bridge the gap between typically developing children and peers that aren’t. Simply put, the goal is to create an environment where people of all abilities can come and enjoy the camp experience. With this, I was able to come in as a fresh face with a position that will be able […]

The Intersection of Passion and Profession

My office is tucked on the second floor of 444 Barker Road, just a stone’s throw away from Lake Michigan. My desk had been haphazardly dragged in front of the room’s only window, and upon my arrival only had one singular occupant, a snake plant that was practically begging for some water. And honestly, three weeks later it doesn’t look much different. A flyer shoved in a drawer, a hair tie that had been long abandoned, maybe a water bottle that had been forgotten during a quick departure. It is apparent to anyone who works in the Barker House that I don’t usually sit at my desk, and that’s something that I’m quite proud of. Let me explain.   My arrival 3 weeks ago was followed by a whirlwind of activity. First there was orientation, then an introduction to my coworkers, which in turn was quickly followed by my first […]

Adjusting to the New: My First Few Weeks Serving the American Red Cross

I entered my internship with the American Red Cross without expectations, mostly because I didn’t know fully what to expect and what I would be working on. I felt excited to try something new and branch out beyond my area of study and my typical skill set, something I had mentioned during the CAPS application process that I wanted to focus on and grow in. So far, I believe that the work I’ve been able to do through the American Red Cross has helped me to see myself and my calling as something greater than one niche thing. I have my hands in many different places, and it’s been refreshing to exercise different skills and ‘muscles’ of my brain to assist with various projects.  Specifically, I have been working with my wonderful supervisor, Colleen, on various projects relating to the alliance between the American Red Cross of Indiana and Indiana […]

Little Moments are Often the Most Breathtaking

I am going to go out on a limb and say that the summertime brings joy to many people. A balanced mixture of sunshine and warm weather has always been the driving factor for my love for summer. Luckily for me, this summer I have the amazing opportunity to enjoy the wonderful joys of summer at Grunewald Guild located in Leavenworth, WA. During my time as an undergrad at Valpo I have used the summers away from school as a time of self-reflection and intend to do the same this summer. My method of daily self-reflection usually entails asking myself, “What is one memorable thing that has happened today?” Sometimes I can easily pinpoint a moment that stood out to me, but sometimes it takes more time to find a significant moment each day. Whenever I struggle to immediately pinpoint a memorable moment, I am forced to replay the day’s events […]

Surprise Feathers, or Cultivating Prophetic Voice

As we explore questions of leadership and service at Valpo, we talk a lot about leadership in times of complexity and challenge, or serving the world’s deep needs.  While it is valuable and necessary to think about how we can change things for the better, our leadership and service must also be marked by a humility that understands that “we” might not have the right answers, or the tools necessary to “fix,” and that we might actually need to change something about ourselves, rather than about the world. More to the point, what happens when we see the world as good as we lead and serve?  What happens when we see those we seek to serve as having assets, resources and capital that we ourselves might not have?  Does anything change? In my capacity as a Lutheran Deaconess, I was recently invited to share with students of the Lutheran Diaconal […]

Making Space for Questions and Complexity

Last week, I had the privilege of conversing with Dr. Kevin Gary’s CORE 115 students, who are exploring “Vocation and the Good Life” through their reading, discussion, and writing this semester. College can be such a rich space for delving into these questions, particularly at Valpo, and I was deeply curious. What were they mulling over? What did they think it might mean to live well?  How were they seeking to  understand and discern a sense of vocation or purpose? What sort of conversation were they having, with writers and with each other, to get at  such questions in earnest?   In our discussion, students brainstormed, teasing out the defining elements of “vocation” and a “good life” from their previous reading and reflection. They highlighted the importance of intentionality and humility in cultivating a deeper sense of joy or contentment (as opposed to chasing happiness). They mentioned how crucial self-reflection […]

Calling is not a straight line

When I was a Valpo student, vocation was often discussed in my circles as being the place where one’s “deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  This is a classic statement from Frederick Buechner.  It’s shorthand, while also holding important meaning.  In fact, Buechner helpfully gives some practice examples of this, suggesting that writing cigarette ads might be fun but probably not helpful, and that being a doctor in a leper colony is very helpful, but if it drains your joy then may not be your best-fit vocation.   The image that this formula always brings to my mind is that of a cross-hairs: two straight lines that find a center, a bullseye.  The world’s need on the x-axis, my gladness on the y-axis.  In this image, as an undergraduate, I found a target with a point system, like the archery targets I used to practice on at summer […]

Cross-Purposes at the Threshold

    It’s that time of year—in the calendar and in the rhythm of college life—when we instinctively look ahead.  Perhaps we declare a resolution to those around us, or search out an app to download that will help us track and manage our habits.  (Our consumption culture has just finished a season of encouraging us to indulge, after all, and now we’re exhorted to take control so that adds some pressure, too.)   On college campuses, soon-to-be graduating seniors are often peering more earnestly into the future, as well—perhaps finalizing applications or awaiting graduate school decisions; seeking to network and interview for positions that are still coming into focus; wondering with a mix of excitement and uncertainty about a position that they may have already secured; navigating relational commitments and how best to live into them in this next period; recalibrating as plans shift.   In all this, possibilities beckon, […]

Discerning Calling and Purpose

Why are we here?  What is my purpose in life?  Who am I and how do I show up in the world?  These are a few of the very big questions that we ask around here, in the Division of Calling and Spiritual Life, at Valparaiso University, at the Institute for Leadership and Service, in the church. I admit, there are days when these questions are a little too big for me, to the point of being incomprehensible or illogical.  In fact, the older I get, the less I profess to know, as Anne Lamott points out in her recent essay on knowing less and less every year. What to do when we look around at society?  What are we supposed to do with a refugee crisis that is sending thousands of people into our cities and towns every day?  What are we supposed to do with wars that find […]

Lavishing Attention in Uncertain Times

Lately, I’ve been stopping to admire the light a lot.  The way autumnal light, beaming lower on the horizon, bathes the crimsons, ambers, and golds of trees this time of year.  Earlier dusks painting the sky in clear, breathless beauty as I walk to my car under increasingly bare tree limbs.  The warmth of a single candle flickering by the sofa – one among many antidotes to those fast-darkening evenings and the chilly mornings when I rise.  The pastel hues of my daughter’s miniature lava lamp, casting patterns across her ceiling at bedtime to ward off unwelcome shadows. These may be small details, observations half-formed in a midday or mid-evening moment, but for me they are also potent reminders – calling me to pay attention to the world around me, to the sacred and the small, to the reverence such details and moments can invite. In An Altar in the […]

Valpo embraces Día de los Muertos

Students and faculty will gather at several locations across campus this week to celebrate Día de los Muertos, a Hispanic cultural tradition honoring loved ones who have passed away. The kick-off event will be an evening of crafting and pozole, a traditional Mexican soup, from 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 30. The Valpo community also had the opportunity to submit photos of their loved ones to be displayed on commemorative ofrendas, Spanish for offerings, on the second floor of the Christopher Center Library, Harre Union, Loke Hall and the Gloria Christi Chapel Nov. 2-8. Sonia Morales, Assistant Director of OMP (Office of Multicultural Programs), and Kat Peters, Assistant Director of the Institute for Leadership and Service (within the Division of Calling and Spiritual Life), have been instrumental in fostering the collaboration that makes these events possible. This year, the celebrations have expanded to other facilities, in part to accommodate students who […]

Remembering Our Loved Ones on Day of the Dead

Dear Valpo Community, Valparaiso University has a long-held tradition of celebrating All Saints Day, in which we remember those who have passed away in the last year.  Names are read on All Saints Sunday (November 5, 2023), including the names of those who have died from our university community, whose photos are displayed all year on the third floor of the Christopher Center Library.  Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Latin American tradition to honor and commemorate the lives of the loved ones who are no longer with us, and to welcome acknowledging their continuing presence in our lives. The main part of this cultural-spiritual tradition is the ofrenda, an ornamental space dedicated to honoring our relatives. This year, Valpo wants to bring this important tradition to four key locations on campus to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in the university community. We want to invite you to join us in […]

Listening for Purpose

By Kat Peters, Assistant Director of the Institute for Leadership and Service Calling and Spiritual Life Newsletter, October 11, 2023 My friend Julio is a rapper in Costa Rica – he comes from a Nicaraguan immigrant family that lives in a precario (what we call in the English translation a “shantytown”).  He raps about social issues that he sees in his community, an active place filled with the noise of life – music, conversations, construction, cooking, playing, vehicles, and more.  In order to hear himself think and without having regular access to a recording studio, he regularly records in his car, where he can have some quiet.  In both literal and artistic ways he’s trying to cut through the noise to help us listen to his message. As a staff here at the Institute for Leadership and Service we have been talking a lot about listening this semester.  ILAS thinks […]

Just Breathe: Morning Prayer Homily

September 25, 2023  Kat Peters (on “How I Sabbath, or Try To”) Text: Genesis 2:4-7 How is your breathing today?  When was the last time you took a deep breath?   Several people have already spoken about the story of Creation as a place for us to ground our thinking about the Sabbath.  Today we return to Genesis to look for more clues on how our identity as creatures of God connects us to God’s life-giving self.  God breathed into the first human’s nostrils the breath of life. Breathing is something that we don’t often think about, at least not on a day-to-day basis.  If you do yoga, you might remember that you are often asked to return to your breath as you deepen a stretch or a pose.  People who are giving birth are coached to breathe as a way to focus through intense pain.   But on a day to […]

The Radical Power of a Pause

The start of the academic year invites us to new beginnings and renewed commitments.  The welcomes and exhortations at Convocation in the crowded heat of our stunning Chapel.  The crisp, clean syllabi passed out, signaling knowledge to explore and problems to solve.  A new calendar or planner, awaiting the events, due dates, student org meetings, and group study sessions we will fill it with soon enough (if we haven’t already).  It can feel heady and promising–ours to claim and relish as we dive in. But as much as I love being back on a full campus that’s rich with community, the beginning of the year overwhelms me.  I am conscious of all the things that I need to do.  Right now.  I am conscious of the desperate need to establish new (efficient!) rhythms as campus comes to life and our attendant work (whether we’re students, faculty, or staff) responds in […]

Bittersweet Ending at the Bridge

As I go into my last week of my CAPS internship, I reflect on my time at The Bridge Teen Center. It brings a certain realization when I think about my internship ending and that is how my time as an undergrad is ending as well. When looking back through the summer, my favorite parts have to be when I would spend time with the students. As the program intern, I get the opportunity to lead and help with programs that the students are in. I was able to lead a program which was a ‘Big Room Hangout & Karaoke’ program. This was a lively program since from start to finish students were singing a song. They went up alone, in pairs, and even groups of three. The students had a lot of fun and so did I! Another program I was able to be in charge of was a […]

My Summer Adventure

My internship has now come to an end and I’m now able to reflect on my entire experience. I moved to Indianapolis at the end of May to begin my internship. When I first arrived I was very nervous and scared. But, I was also excited. The first few days I was a little shy and nervous. My first big surprise was that everybody worked out of a community house instead of a traditional office. But that quickly subsided. I built a great relationship with mentor and/or supervisor Rasul Muhammad. He really did a good job looking for me over the summer and my experience at Kheprw was so great. I also built such a good relationship with the rest of the staff at Kheprw as well.  They cared and looked out for each other. Inside and outside of work. They were more of a family rather than just coworkers. […]

Saying Goodbye: My Last Week with Heartland Alliance’s VELT Team

As I am completing my last week with Heartland Alliance’s VELT Team, I am both excited for the upcoming school year and a little sad about having to say goodbye to such a wonderful team and group of students. I have had so much fun here and although it was a bit tough for me at first, I have grown so much and I am grateful for that. I have asked for help more, realized the importance of a work-life balance, taken on new challenges and opportunities, and built relationships with so many different people. I don’t believe I would have grown so much this summer without this experience. Asking for help and accepting that needed help hasn’t been easy for me. I am very independent and I try to do things on my own as much as possible. I have many different reasons for that but I think the […]