Friday, May 27, 2011

Full Circle

May 23rd, 2011

May 23rd, 2011 was the day that I arrived home, back from my first year of college. May 23rd, 2010 was the date of my graduation-from-high school party last year. My dear friend gave me a book of daily mediations by Madeleine L'Engle, and she'd underlined two short sentences in the May 23rd passage-[I know I've mentioned this before, but it's one of the most influential quotes I've ever encountered, so bear with me, troops]- "You are to be a light-bearer. You are to choose the light." That's defined my year. And I know it will continue to define me. Another graduation gift I got was a plaque my friend made with the classic Chesterton quote: "An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered. An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered," painted on it. That was my quote senior year of high school. There are some ideas you encounter that change you-they weave themselves into the fabric of your life and become an essential part of who you are. That’s what those quotes are to me.

Socrates says that the unexamined life is not worth living. My tendencies to reflect and ponder are somewhat justified by that. And, again, I think God gives us the opportunities to reflect-we have beautiful brains that attach memories to certain places, which when we return to we are flooded with a whole host of emotions and ideas that spring from that certain place.


One of the best feelings in the world is coming full circle. Returning a year later to where you were a year before, remembering what you were feeling the last time you were here, and then noticing how you've changed but how you've also stayed the same.

I've kept a journal since I was six, and one of the reasons I love journaling is the fact that you can look at yourself a year ago (or a month ago, or two years ago), and remember what you were thinking. What you were feeling. What was important to you, what your worries, hopes, and dreams were. And revisiting places has the same effect. I went back to Duluth almost exactly a year later. And my heart chuckled as we revisited the exact same places we explored a year ago. It astounded me how much life had been lived, how many new people had entered into my life, how many new places I'd explored since then. Yet you come back to a place and everything is the same. It's a rather jarring feeling, but it's bizarrely comforting at the same time.

As we drove up to my Grandmother's house yesterday, I had the happiest and saddest feelings; I can't really pinpoint them, or describe what they were. They were just Feelings, because this was a Coming Full Circle Moment and it Meant Something, thus I had Feelings.
I hadn't been here since the beginning of the year when we drove down to Notre Dame. The last time we were here, as we got in the car to head to Notre Dame, I remember sitting our van thinking: "What on earth am I doing?? How do I do this college thing?" I literally had no idea what I was going to do at college. I didn't know where to start-I didn't even know what the beginning looked like, much less where to find it or how to embark on it.
I was a deer that was caught in the headlights of an SUV with semi-functioning brakes, with hunters lurking in wait on either side of the road, and a semi barreling down upon me from the opposite direction.
Yup. That was my approximate mental state going into freshman year. If I hadn't found Psalm 37:4 written into a little corner of a mundane picture in my grandma's bathroom, I might have gone insane. Whoa, what's Psalm 37:4, you ask? Well, folks, I asked myself that same question. So I behooved myself to the nearest edition of the St. Joseph New American Bible. And this is what I discovered:

"Find your delight in the Lord, who will give you the desires of your heart."

What a quote to remember. What a gem.

Gentle Readers, the moral of this story is:

Bathroom art changed my life.

All my dreams, plans, hopes, and visions for the future would be taken care of, if only I just trusted in God and pursued Him. Okay, cool. This is perfect. I can work with this.

So, about these dreams: I remember the same dear friend who gave me the Madeleine L'Engle book asking me via a letter in early November what my dreams were. I distinctly recall how it felt to sit in the tall chairs at the front of my dorm's lobby (aside: these chairs were made for people-watching. Group studying, my foot. We "study" there to see and be seen. It's the LaFun Phenomenon.) and realize with dismay that I hadn't dreamt recently. Literally and figuratively. I rarely dreamt in my sleep first semester, and I didn't know what my waking dreams were. But I knew I had to find them again. And one of the lessons of freshman year was rediscovering all those dreams.
As lovely as those castles in the clouds are, God promises that we'll have a dream greater than we could even imagine if we just seek Him. Until God finally commanded my full attention, I really wasn't able to find those dreams again. "What hinders you most of all from receiving heavenly consolation is your slowness in turning to Me in prayer. Before you pray earnestly to Me, you first seek other comforts, trying to find distraction in outward things. Hence it is that all these things are of little benefit to you until you realize that I alone am the One Who delivers those who trust in Me. There is no effectual help nor worthwhile counsel nor lasting remedy." (Imitation of Christ 3, chpt.30)
Putting God at the center of your life and relying on God alone is a hard, difficult lesson to truly learn. I s'pose most lessons like that are easy to hear. But to really hear, understand and enact? Uffda. That's a tall order. Miraculously, God gives us a million opportunities to learn that lesson- to lean on Him alone. To let go of all our dreams, and give them to Him, even if He has to pry them out of our hands. Sometimes it’s the only way He can get us to trust Him, to make Him the delight of our hearts. Because if God is the desire of our heart, then we've immediately got everything we’ve ever needed or wanted. Everything beyond that is His gift.
So there you have it. That was the lesson I learned this year. Obviously, it's a lesson that we are constantly learning. We mess up, we forget, and we fall short.
And, mercifully, there will always be bathroom art to remind us what life's really all about.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much Renee! That was beautiful and an important reminder of things I too easily forget.