A Semester in Review: Spring 2009
May 14, 2009 § 1 Comment
So many awesome memories and blessings once again! With one foot in the real world and one foot still in school, I spent my final semester working between thirty and forty hours per week, taking two classes, teaching RCIA at my parish, getting myself back into performance shape at the piano, and spending time with family and friends both old and new.
Playing the grands in the music school – D took me on an adventure during the first week of the semester, leading me down an incomprehensible maze into the basement of the music school where the practice pianos are kept. It had been five long years since I had practiced, and I despaired of ever really playing a piano again. But the music school has grand pianos – Steinways – in beautiful condition and finely tuned. Even depression over my loss of skill couldn’t keep me from those pianos, and I started to play one to two hours a day. It was D’s intent to get me playing again as a stress relief around comps, and it worked. I feel as though my soul has been released again through the music.
Spending time with D – D’s schedule was extremely heavy this semester, so I really treasured the time we did spend together. Practicing piano together, going on a couple walks about campus, sitting and chatting at the Shrine, and heading down to the Art Gallery on a rainy afternoon along with my sisters were amongst our activities. Thank you, D, for another wonderful semester of a friendship for which I could never be thankful enough.
Pavlo – Meeting Pavlo is one of the greatest blessings in my life. (Hopefully he never reads this because he would be very embarrassed!) There are moments in life when I’ve come in contact with someone fleetingly, and known that not knowing them would have been a terrible loss, that that person would have a key formative role in my life. Ever had a moment like that? I have had two in fact. Back in March, I went to a Dvorak concert at the music school. I almost backed out of it at the last second, but thought I would probably regret it if I did not attend. So I went.
Before the concert, a young man approached me outside. I could identify him as a seminarian by his clothes. He had a warm smile, a gentle manner, and a very thick accent. He asked if I was “Kenny’s sister” (my younger brother is going to school at the same university and had met him before) and we chatted briefly before the concert started. I sat next to him for the concert, and we talked during intermission. I left the concert feeling like someone had given my very heart a warm hug.
Since that March evening, my family and I had the honor of touring his seminary with him and of enjoying his company over dinner at our house. He will be in my prayers as long as I breathe, and I will forever praise God for the blessing of this friendship. Pavlo has taught me so many things, simply, by his quiet ways.
More time to bake – This semester offered many opportunities to practice my baking hobby. Over the past year I have gathered so many recipes! D was my main taste-tester…some things were successes, some definitely failures.
Fred Astaire movies with my sisters – I found that Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies are balm for the heart and soul when one is very tired. My sisters joined me patiently for each one, after piling pillows on their bed and snuggling under the covers. My favorite film was “Follow the Fleet”, and the best line was advice given by Ginger regarding how to catch a man: “It takes a lot of brains to be dumb!”
Kevin and Monique’s engagement – When I received the text messages/emails about my cousin Kevin proposing to his wonderful girlfriend, I cried with joy. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Congratulations again, Kev!
Emails back and forth with Mary Ann – I have long been wanting to author a post on the meaning and importance of spiritual friendship, but I never seem to be able to do it justice. Mary Ann is on our RCIA team, and it was in volunteering for that group that we started to get to know each other better. Much better. Although coming from very different families and backgrounds, we are veritable spiritual twins! Sharing the spiritual journey of this past semester and more has been amazing; there is nothing so consoling as an email in the morning, offering prayerful support. Thank you, Mary Ann, so very much.
Now, to get on to that post about spiritual friendships…
Working as part of the RCIA team – Witnessing our spiritual “babies” coming into the Catholic Church was one of the proudest moments in my life. I love each and every one of them with my whole heart and soul, and thank God daily for allowing me to be a part of their faith journeys. Thursday nights are going to seem very empty without RCIA meetings!
Tour of Lincoln Cottage – As part of my Lincoln history class (offered for Lincoln’s bicentennial), the professor took us on a field trip at the Lincoln Cottage, which was Lincoln’s summer home during the war years. The setting was so peaceful, it was hard to imagine the Civil War taking place on the doorstep of the Cottage retreat. Although others scoffed at it, I was thrilled to run my hand up and down the stair railing that President A. Lincoln touched every night and every morning for over a 1/3 of his presidency.
Senior Seminar II with Dr. White – Dr. White was one of my first teachers at this university, and it was an honor to be taught by him three times during my time here, for Nature & Human Nature, Philosophy of Knowledge, and for Senior Seminar II. Dr. White is a truly great man, with an honest and humble desire for truth. One learns more from interacting with him and observing his example than from any amount of lecture or classwork. Normally, he does not teach this last, but he did this year for the first time. It was marvelous, and the book list certainly did not disappoint.
Hearing the clown story – Very random, yes, but it was delightful. One morning, over coffee, a co-worker told me a story of a previous job he had working for the circus. At one point on the job, he had to transport a carload of clowns from a hospital they were visiting back to where the circus was located. There was a lot of traffic on the highway and the van wasn’t moving anywhere, so the clowns piled out of the car (nine of them) and started running and tumbling around the other cars. Eventually things started moving again and they returned to their van. Haha! Just imagine looking out your car window or into your rear view mirror to see…a clown?
About two hours ago I went to the school bookstore to pick up my cap and gown. It hit me while I was in line that this is the end of a chapter in my life, and the beginning of a new one. I started to cry. Pavlo also happened to be in line and cheered me…but even now I am fighting back tears. I just can’t believe it is nearly over. I have spent five years working very hard to earn these two bachelor’s degrees: there were twenty-one credit semesters, painstaking hours in the lab separating crystals with a needle under a microscope, innumberable attempts at the same science problems before I finally “cracked them”, studies over the summer, hours spent working with professors during office hours, time with friends and coworkers, support from family, time spent in prayer, time spent crying in front of the Blessed Sacrament because I was so exhausted I thought I would shatter into a million pieces. Five years is a long time, and I am a very different person from the barely-eighteen year old who started here and walked into Dr. Druart’s classroom for philosophy on the first day of classes. I can’t wait to see what the next five years will bring; praise God. I know the journey He has planned will be incredible.