Horizons Fellow Maria Maguire reflects on Joy

I am very thankful to be a Fellow with Theological Horizons. I am a fourth year here at U.Va.  I’m studying studio art and religious studies.  This past spring I spent a semester in Italy.  Though I experienced great joy in that new place, I also missed my community of U.Va.  When I reflected on what exactly it was that I missed—when I tried to identify a physical place where I felt I belonged, where I felt peace—it was the Bonhoeffer House.

Throughout my time at U.Va., the cozy living room of the Bonhoeffer House has been a place of refuge from the pressures of university life.  Though it is deeply connected to The University, it has been for me a place apart.  At Friday Vintage lunches, I have often felt the Holy Spirit that it is dwelling within me come alive through creative realizations sparked by theological readings and discussions.  Walking home from Vintage on a beautiful Fridayautumn afternoon, I feel invigorated and alive—even more alive than usual.  That is the Holy Spirit.

So unquestionably when I got the e-mail from Karen announcing that there would be a new Fellows program for fourth years, I jumped with joy.  An opportunity to get even more involved with the Bonhoeffer house?! I thought with a huge grin.

I was content with simply being more connected with the Bonhoeffer house—that was enough.  I was very excited to help out by volunteering at guest lectures.  I love simply being present, helping out in whatever way I can, so that I can be exposed to the stimulating conversations of faith, thought, and life.

I later found out that the focal point of this fellowship was a relationship with a mentor.  I didn’t expect, and couldn’t possibly forsee, the gift of this program.

Throughout my time at U.Va., I’ve meandered between the disciplines of studio art and religious studies.  I have found that the study of each has provoked discoveries and realizations in the other.   Theological Horizons found a perfect match for me in the community:  my current mentor, who is a liturgical artist.  I was blessed to attend a recent Mini-Retreat of hers, at which we attendees made art as a form of prayer, a way to connect with God.  She is a pastor, and she is extremely gifted at helping others listen deeply to the Holy Spirit.  People who are trying to discern the next step in their lives often come to her with questions—how do I do what God wants me to do?

What gives you delight?  She says.  What better of a way to glorify God is there than to do what gives you joy?  God is at the heart of that.  God is where your heart is.

And so I go forth, discerning questions of what gives me joy, and how I can do whatever that is to glorify God.

I look forward to the blossoming of this mentoring relationship, which has been a true gift from God through Theological Horizons.

-Maria Maguire, UVa 2014