Mission and Ministry
Alumni Living the Mission

Jocelyn Tidwell

  • Rainer Maria Rilke begins one of his sonnets with the admonishment to “want the change.  Be inspired by the flame/ where everything shines as it disappears.” I’m mindful of those words as fall deepens, and the trees turn even an ordinary walk home into something inspired. Leaves the color of flame reach down delicately from overhanging branches or lie glistening on the sidewalk. I catch myself shifting my feet so as not to step on them, halted for a moment by the dance of ruby, amber, and soft peach so tangibly close. With the trees leading the way, it somehow seems as though I too could suddenly catch fire.

    When I think about what my Jesuit education has meant for me, it is this sense of catching fire that stands out. I’ve always been an intense, ideal-driven person, but while I was in my program at Seattle U, the passions that had been quietly smoldering inside – to make a difference with my work, to participate in justice that restores – blossomed into full flame.

    I became involved with Magis almost as soon as I graduated, and whether it’s a service day or weekend retreat, I always find that somehow through those experiences I’m drawn back into what ignited in me during my program.  This is especially true of the Magis small group I’m involved in. From the beginning, I felt an uncanny sense of camaraderie, delighted by this community of people who are just as captivated as I am by issues of social justice and deep questions of faith. I recognize burning in them the same values that animate me, manifested in a dozen unique ways. Our conversations leave me reenergized and refocused what matters most.

    At the Magis retreat last May, I remember being handed a sticker emblazoned with the words, Ite Inflammate Omnie  –  "Go. Set the world on fire." Though I’d managed to graduate without everhearing this well-known saying of St. Ignatius’, amazingly, it seemed immediately familiar. I heard echoes of the same encouragement I received all along from my professors and classmates, and now fellow alumni, who continually call me to let who I am burn brightly and see what a change I can make.  
    As I head into this first fall post-graduation, after a year full of both daunting challenges and the ordinary bustle of life, I’m discovering that what seemed final at graduation was really just the beginning.  Rilke, in that same sonnet begun above, counsels us to “flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking/ finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.” For me, in unique ways, the conversations and experiences I’ve had through Magis have helped me hold onto this intense mystery, acting like a fresh wind stirring the coals back to life, rekindling that sense of where I began and where I am committed to going.

  • Seattle University, 2011