A vocation? Not me! A scientist who studies Parkinson’s disease, teaches graduate and undergraduate students, and mentors them in the laboratory and a parent, lots of hats but not a vocation. But then God found me or maybe more accurately I let myself be found by God. Through participation in the 19th Annotation and with the guidance of a gifted Jesuit spiritual director, I discovered that I do indeed have a vocation. It’s no longer the list of things I do but the approach I am called take when doing them – a shift in my interiority– that animates my ‘everydayness’ – that makes all the difference.
For me, it’s been an invitation to love – patiently, attentively, with gratitude, without holding on too tightly, and most important from a place of freedom that leads to hope.
In my research, it means taking the time to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the brain. In the laboratory and classroom, it means gently guiding the formation of students, inviting them to think more deeply about the subject matter, to find joy in discovery, and to push what they perceive as their intellectual boundaries. As a parent, it means sometimes flying by the seat of my pants (they really didn’t come with an instruction book), making mistakes along the way, but always from a place of love. And now that they are young adults, it means having faith as I watch them grow into the people they are called to be. When I received a Mother’s Day card with this note, “thanks for always showing me what right looks like”, I felt deep gratitude and humility. These kids who are so forgiving of my limitations don’t even realize that all along they’ve been showing me what ‘right looks like’ – what Love looks like.
While my vocation . . . my journey began with and is sustained by Jesus’ love – God also invites our participation. Thanks to the Jesuit and religious communities at Georgetown who aide and encourage us in our mission – to educate and prepare students for a life of service, to go deeper, to see God in all things, and to collaborate – this community is a place where all are invited to grow in mind, body, and spirit; inspired to serve others.
Department of Neuroscience