24 Days of Grateful [Day 17]
I recently went to an event on my old college campus. It has only been less than two years since I walked those paths and sat in those classrooms myself, but it feels like a long time ago based on where I am in my life now. And yet it doesn’t feel like a long time ago at all because I still remember cramming my days with homework, editing the school newspaper, and running to Dunkin for a Coolatta just to get through the next two hours. I remember my thesis, and writing it on the third floor of the library, and playing Christmas music to ease the pain of a first draft.
I remember walking back from the gym at 11:00 p.m. because when you are in college that is the only time you have to work out. I remember going to Campus Ministry events in the chapel to feel okay beneath the eaves and darkness as students sat in circles, all of us searching, none of us sure. College is a beautiful thing, but the truth is, there were days when I forgot to eat.
As I sat there in the chapel I have cried in as a student, I realized that my body was the only thing that was truly the same. I wouldn’t recognize myself if my two selves collided, past and present an enigma. But God always remembers me, and He recognizes the parts that are still bruised on equal ground with the parts that grew new skin.
Not everyone gets the chance to go to college, and even fewer people have an experience that transforms them into a faithful being. I am blessed that my education brought me happiness and trust during and later; I am still learning but also receiving moments of teaching in dimly-lit chapels with Christmas carols echoing. That is a blessing in itself, just to hear Christmas carols that your sister is singing, and to absorb them and be happy that you have that moment. (My sister who just graduated, by the way, so if you are reading this — congratulations.)
So I am grateful for my education, first and foremost, but I am also grateful for the opportunity to keep on learning and return to the place that started the lesson. The night I am speaking of was one of Biblical lessons and holiday carols, but there are more lessons hidden in stained glass windows – lessons that I sketched in art class freshman year but didn’t understand until now. God leaves breadcrumbs for us to find years later when we need them. I am lucky that I have been gifted a place that is near, and familiar, and accessible when I forget that I have faith.
I left my college with a degree that I use every day. But I consider myself as truly graduating when I started to want to spend time in a chapel. My life now doesn’t leave much time for that, something maybe I can remedy in 2016. But the lesson of returning to the campus chapel, I think, was that God is always there when you decide to come home. No matter how many times you run away, foolish and desperate and caught up in every day.