Consolation and fortitude invigorated me as I walked into Memorial Church in the autumn of 2015 for the first time as Father X took command of the Holy Spirit and gave himself, a gift, to the congregation. I had just graduated from Williams that spring and was in need of a spiritual director for my new life as an ‘adult.’ I heard the Spirit’s whisper confirm that Father X was to be my spiritual director.
I arrived in Palo Alto without a job, but sure that God wanted me there. I originally planned on applying to medical school the next year, but I heard God asking me to boldly trust Him. So I applied to Stanford in the beginning of October. On October 9, I e-mailed Father X with the subject line, “Spiritual Direction.” I walked into his office, and he, in what I now know to be his signature move, said nothing but greeted me with a smile that conveyed knowledge—not knowledge in an intellectual sense, but knowledge on a spiritual plane—a mutual harmonic resonance between us, tied through the eternal knowledge of the Holy Spirit.
That first meeting was the beginning of weekly, sometimes twice weekly, meetings that the Lord used to etch the shape of His Son upon my heart. I treasured these weekly meetings. Father X became my spiritual director, my confessor, and my friend. I took copious notes and reflected upon them during my three hours of commuting to and from UCSF each day where I was a research analyst in the neurosurgery department. I began sending a ‘Meditation of the Day’ text to my family and closest friend. This quickly grew and now reaches 5,000 people!
I characterize this chapter in my life as Abandonment to Divine Providence. The Lord continued to stretch my heart. By mid-January 2016 Matthew Decker and I were leading an Evangelical Catholic small group. We encouraged each other to pray and pray. God used us to show his love to our small group, and he used our small group to teach us how to walk with humility and how to listen.
In February I was invited to interview at Stanford on the final day of interviews. To see God’s hand ever more clearly in this story it is important to understand the improbability that I would attend Stanford for medical school. Roughly 8,000 students apply each cycle; the administration aims for a final class size of 85-95. I was not a competitive applicant by any means—so much so that my pre-med advisor at Williams told me the only way I would get into Stanford was if I fell in love with the daughter of the dean of admissions.
Yet, I retained a disproportionate level of optimism. I was almost sure that I was supposed to be at Stanford—certainly for medicine, even more so for evangelization. God was rooting me in the community and I had a strong sense that it was not to be a transient existence. Roots take time to grow and God was growing my roots into the Stanford community. On April 30, I received a call from Dean Gibbs offering me a place in the class of 2016. God had done the impossible; I was going to be at Stanford for at least another four years. I immediately texted Father X, “I’m in. We are infiltrating the med school!” And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
The med school is a difficult environment for ministry, steeped in a progressive ideological framework devoid of God. I often come to my weekly meetings with Father X discouraged, burnt out, and irritated. Still, this last year we turned my room into a space for prayer. Father X bought us four full sets of The Liturgy of the Hours. A small community of students joined to pray Lauds in my room at 6:30 each morning.
As I return to campus it will be my fourth fall on campus, and third as a student. God continues to grow my roots. Father X continues to counsel me, to encourage me, and most importantly to remind me that I am the beloved son of the Father, with whom He is well-pleased.