Beth Eyerman's Full Reflection
My Spirituality Journey
I have never felt as though I were a spiritual person, even though I went to Catholic schools for 12 years. For a lot of my youth, going to Mass every week felt like more of an obligation than a gift. When I went away to college, I was “free” of that obligation and stopped going to church. I had a difficult sophomore year, and almost transferred schools hoping to fix my life. I decided not to transfer, but my mother implored me to go back to church as she knew my spiritual life was lacking. Out of more of a sense of duty to her, I started attending Mass at the local Newman Center. A friend and neighbor joined me and it became a nice way to spend Sunday mornings. However, I still didn’t feel filled with Christ’s spirit.
I had the chance to work at the Grand Canyon after my junior year of college, which was an amazing opportunity for a girl born and raised in the Midwest. I remember calling home the day I arrived, and when I described the beauty of the canyon to my mom, her immediate response was “don’t you just feel so close to God?” And I wondered why that wasn’t my first thought. I did come to have a reverent awe of the splendor of the canyon, and during my several hikes to the bottom, I had the opportunity to truly see God’s handicraft.
After college and law school, I went on to get married. Unfortunately, my marriage didn’t last, but during those tumultuous years, I began attending Mass again, hoping to find support. I think that probably was the beginning of my true spiritual journey, as I wanted the Lord’s help to guide me with my relationship difficulties. Mass was a sanctuary from the sadness in my life, because I also realized that along with my failing marriage, I was unhappy in my chosen career. When I made the steps to end my marriage, I also made the decision to relocate to Arizona. I hoped this would allow me a new beginning in my personal life, and that perhaps then I would find fulfillment practicing law.
I moved in with my Aunt Gerry (Murphy, another Tucson associate) and her family until I began working. I joined a law firm in Tucson, but realized it wasn’t the location (Ohio or Arizona) but the job itself that caused my unhappiness. I would occasionally join my aunt and uncle in daily Mass, praying for strength as I walked away from a job I had thought I wanted to do for 19 years. I realized that I didn’t want to spend my every day dealing with conflict, and fighting for a living. I knew the Lord was with me as I shared that decision with my family.
Around that same time, my mother had a heart attack and was unable to return to work. She came to stay with me as she recuperated; she ultimately ended up living with me for the later years of her life. I had always admired her religious devotion and I was blessed with the opportunity to have that spirituality present in my daily life.
I went through several jobs searching for the right opportunity, and had Mom’s love and support as I journeyed. My career in Human Resources systems began in my 40’s and provided the spark and challenge I craved. I had a manager who mentored me, and remember my mom saying with tears in her eyes that she was so happy to see me working with someone who valued me. I did feel blessed to have her love and support.
I became a registered parishioner at our church, and enjoyed attending daily mass with my mom and her sisters. I then joined the Human Resources Committee (HRC) at my parish, hoping to give back to the parish. The HRC held a twice-yearly new parishioner welcome at the church. We would have small group sharing; discussing their journeys to the parish and why folks joined our parish in particular. Many people spoke of the many opportunities to grow their faith at the church; such as small faith sharing groups, 80+ committees/organizations and book clubs.
But I still felt a void in my spirituality. I didn’t have a daily presence of prayer in my life, as I would usually fall asleep before finishing an Our Father. About that time is when the Servites came into my life. My mother was part of a book club and they were reading “May I Have This Dance?” by Joyce Rupp. Sr. Joan Houtekier was the leader of the group and even though my mother was in failing health, she would rally to be able to attend book club with her group. Many in that club became part of the original Tucson Servite Associate community. When I met Sr. Joan at my mother’s funeral, we talked about how she was the “may I have this dance” lady and how important that was to my mom. I wanted to have that deep faith spirit within me, and decided to explore becoming an associate. I hoped to be able to grow my spiritual core with the support of other Associates.
I have been a Tucson associate for a number of years now, and get so much from our meetings that have been faithfully organized by Mary and Charlie Mann. I have found a way to have a prayer life without falling asleep – I pray in my car. I turn off my car radio and say my daily prayers as I drive to work in the morning. It is the first thing I do each day, and every time I get in my car.
I suspect that wouldn’t be a recommended location for prayerful meditation, but it actually is ideal for me. I tend to be an aggressive driver and this helps me slow down and be thoughtful in my driving habits, keeping the spirit of the Lord in the forefront of my activity. I look at the beautiful mountains that surround Tucson and say a prayer of thanks for them and for the gift
I have in being able to live in this beauty. I am now more mindful of God’s presence than I have been for years.
Although I still am not able to quote chapter or verse of the Bible, I do believe my spirituality has grown and deepened. I am aware of the Lord’s presence in my daily activities, and more mindful of being kind and gentle to all those around me. I start each day with quiet prayer time, thankful for the blessings in my life and all my loved ones.
Beth became an Associate in 2006. She enjoys traveling and time with her family.