Written by Emily Bishop. Media by Denee Menghini.
You brave, tired group of people. You have exactly one month left at Greenville College. Four weeks to eat at Mario’s Pizza one last time. Twenty-eight days to decide if you are actually going to go to class.
May 2014: it’s a funny thing when the date you have been waiting for your entire college career is at our doorstep. Are you paying attention to what your mind and heart are doing in this season? I hope you are walking back to your residence after class and engaging with the people who have known you during college. I hope you are possibly reverting back to your Freshman self and staying up entirely too late talking about silly and deep things (with well informed opinions and theologies, of course). But mostly, I hope you take a few hours and reflect on where you are because there are plenty of “Mays” in life.
What I mean is there will be plenty more times when life affords you the grace to know it is about to change. In those moments before you decide to take another job or your first baby is about to be born or you move out of the country, I want you to remember the following two things:
1. Our mind has a way of tricking us into believing we can judge the outcome of a season of life before it has
even occurred. We size up potential jobs, cities, and relationships firmly proclaiming them to be 100% awful or 100% fantastic before ever experiencing them. Seniors, this is where anxiety and unrealistic expectations come in. I want to challenge you to adopt an open mindset about your next season of life that embraces both the crazy awesome and the painful, because the truth is, your next season of life will contain both. Do not fall into the belief that nothing bad or hard should ever happen to you because you will miss opportunities to show grace and become who you are in the midst of trial. Do not fall into the belief that nothing good or completely unprecedented will ever happen to you because you will miss the opportunity to delight and give thanks. Both are important because they shape your character. And both are places where the Spirit of God dwells.
2. Nothing is fully possessed until it is remembered. Only when memories or people or entire seasons of life take up residence in your heart and mind do they actually go about the full work of changing you. This notion is why we’re still remembering Christ’s death and resurrection at the communion table; that act was so incredible we are still trying to comprehend it through remembering two thousand years later.
Greenville College is not through with you because, somewhere down the road when you’re feeling the most needy, I hope you’ll find yourself remembering the kind of wholeness of life Ruth Huston described in chapel in front of an altar of bread. When you’re feeling unsure about friendship or future community, I hope you remember how different your Freshman self is from your Senior self and that you didn’t really feel at home at GC until the spring of your Freshman year because good things take time. I hope when you think about how to spend your free time, you remember that John Brittingham said, “Friendship is someone who develops you for the sake of you,” and that you spend your time thinking and acting for the good of others. When you fear looking ridiculous as a participant in your new job or city, I hope you remember participating in (slightly) hokey things like The All College Hike where Emily Callon, in reference to beginnings, said, “It feels crappy because it’s new. You have to go through it to experience the goodness of God.”
Recently, I was walking with Nicole Barks around Greenville, noticing everything in bloom in this long awaited spring. Nicole shared with me what John Mark, a monk at St. Meinrad’s Archabbey, shared with her: “Holiness is being present to where you are and who you are.”
I pray you will be present in these last four weeks, Seniors. Present to where you are and who you are.
Your Fellow Alumna,