Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Standing on the Edge

Recently, I have the distinct sensation that I am standing on a precipice of a giant cliff. My feet are balanced precariously on the edge and below is complete darkness. I have been slowly and carefully walking up to this cliff edge for the last four years. Initially, I would look at the others standing on the distant edge, contemplating how terrified they must feel. There is nothing underneath them that they can see; their destiny is completely unknown. And then, they would jump. Where they landed, I hardly knew. Now, as a Senior, I stand on this very edge. In the next three months, I have to prepare myself and then jump.

Even as I stand now on this edge, I am constantly overcome by two emotions. Either I am completely ready or extremely sad. Fear is not an option at the moment. I have far greater things in life to fear. And the view down from the cliff-edge is more clear than that while standing two, three, or four years off. I can now see this Man waiting at the bottom. He is strong and capable and He is very kind. He is calling to me. Right now, He yells gently, "Get ready! Get set! You don't have much longer, but you still are there for a reason!"

I will admit that there are days when I feel so ready leave. I do not hate Christendom. Quite the contrary. But, God is calling me out into the world immenently and in order to leave a place as incredible as this, God must provide immense graces to quell the fear and sadness. Those days when, detesting the idea of cleaning my room for room checks as a twenty-three year old woman, I offer this up for the Holy Souls and visions of apartments dance through my head.

On the contrary, there are those days when suddenly the reality of it all hits me in the face, usually lasting only thirty seconds. Saturday night, I pulled various pictures out of my photo albums for the Senior slideshow shown for the Senior Dinner in May. I made four stacks: Freshman year, Sophomore year, Junior Year, Senior year. Suddenly, the near-end was sitting tangibly in front of me. Four years, four stacks of pictures. As the radio lilted out melancholic songs behind me, I flipped through all the pictures from the four years. Mary Akers, now happily married, dressed tackily to meet her ex-boyfriend's parents. Iona's birthday party from Freshman year. Top Floor Campion crowded into Bethany Zuniga's room for the surprise party she never showed up to. Julian and Adam swing dancing together for Coffee House. Various dances, parties, girl-times, and memories.

College, the wise adults (we ourselves are quickly becoming) say, is supposed to be "the time of your life." I have no regrets, only that the time is almost over. I vowed long ago to carefully balance my social and academic life, having heard two regrets from former college students of all ages: "I wish I'd spent more time studying," or, "I wish I'd hung out with my friends more." Having gained an enviable and wonderful education and made life-long, holy, and loving friendships, I get ready to jump knowing that I have those two very things to back me up and that nice, loving Man below me to catch me.

As I continue through my last semester, waiting for reality to permanently hit me, I continue to make friends and learn new things. God has a reason for me being here until the day I graduate. And when I do, I hope I leave behind something that other students behind me can learn from. I hope that when they, too, step onto the edge they may look with confidence on my Senior Class and garner hope from us. And when I leap in May, I will continue to look on this place as my first home and pray to meet all my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in our true Home.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thankful for my Health

I have a friend who, while attending college here at Christendom, spend the entirety of her Freshman year bed-ridden with a serious and dangerous illness. Occasionally rising for classes, she confided in me once that it was God who had helped her with classes and life that year. She couldn't crack a book. Of course, my reaction was sympathy. I could not empathize because I had neer been bed-ridden at all in my life.

Christendom is like a Petri dish. All illnesses get caught inside our Holy bubble and fester. Of course, being an overachiever and overextender, I always seem to catch everything going around and always at the worst possible times. Last Thursday night, in the middle of my night class, I suddenly realized I could not see the professor. I couldn't see anything. After seven years of freedom, I was getting a migraine. I picked up what belongings I could and left the classroom. Friday morning came, and I was feeling no better. This was not surprising. I usually feel better about 24 hours after succumbing to these little samples of Inferno. Friday night came, and I was still strangely tired; Saturday and Sunday all found me the same. Frustrated, I was curious as to why this migraine was hanging on so long. Then came Sunday night. I was burning inside and out. My wastebasket suddenly became attached to my hip and I began running fever. Darned migraine, I thought. I began to feel worse. I climbed into bed, but was feeling so awful I didn't fall asleep until 2:30 in the morning. Long story short, I spent seven days in bed. Through it all, I finally realized the migraine was the beginning of a wicked strain of the Flu.

Okay, I now have an incredibly small idea of how my friend felt. As a social, happy person, I hate being stuck in bed. However, I can usually handle the imprisonment for two or three days...not seven. My friends were very patient and my sister took wonderful care of me. I can't remember having been that sick in a long time. I ran fever for at least three days and on Tuesday was convincend the end was at hand. I know. But, I was tired.

As I lay in bed, two things kept running through my head. First, I badly wanted to go to Mass and be with Jesus. I hadn't seen Him in several days. Beyond this, people take thier health for granted. As I lay there in bed, worrying about all the commitments I was breaking, I realized how far we push ourselves. Committing to innumerable activities, not going to bed until we absolutely must, filling our mind with silly worries, the list goes on. Then, God sends the Flu. He tries preliminaries, but for all of our worrying and running we don't hear Him say, "Calm the heck down, my young Paduan. All things in My time." And so He lays the smackdown. I listened this time while lying in bed.

People need to slow down, enjoy life, not worry so much. Stop, watch the waving daffodils on the hill, smell the scent of coffee lingering in the kitchen, sleep. God wants us to take care of our bodies, His gifts to us. So, I am trying to take better care of myself and change some of my habits. I realized there's a truth behind one's health: you don't know what you've got until you've lost it.