Friday, July 17, 2009

...Why I'm Thankful for My Alma Mater

In an hour and a half we will jump in the car and head south for the weekend. I'm especially excited because this weekend it is supposed to be around 105 degrees here (it was 104 yesterday...yuck...), which means Sadie and I stay inside after 10 o'clock in the morning. While we come up with lots of things to do Sadie still spends a good portion of the afternoon staring wistfully out the window. Thankfully the forecast for this weekend (according the reunion email I just got) said that it's only supposed to be 82 there with a low of 60. We haven't seen a high temperature that low in quite a while, so I'm very excited!

Since I posted yesterday on the things that I dislike about my alma mater, I thought I would post something today before we leave explaining one of the reasons that I am thankful to have picked SMC when they offered me the Presidential Scholarship, nine years ago (which is how a Southern Baptist ended up at a Catholic College after writing an essay on LaSallian morals in my life).

My freshman year in college was fine, but the other three years were pretty rough. I had stopped praying and if you'd asked me I wouldn't have even said that I was a Christian (for a time I would have even said that I was Buddhist). It was definitely a low point in my life and I was struggling with some trauma that I hadn't dealt with from some violence during my teenage years and making all sorts of excuses for myself about why it was okay to act the way that I was acting. A psychiatrist put me on anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, which masked the problem nicely and allowed me to party my way through a couple years. If you'd asked me I might even have said I was happy on any given day.

Looking back I can't believe I fooled myself. While I managed not to cry most of the time, I definitely wasn't happy. But there was one person that was always very kind to me and that memory stood out when I agreed with my then-fiancee, now husband, to convert to Catholicism.

I was the lifeguard at the pool on campus for most of my college career, and the priest that said Mass in the Chapel would come by when he went swimming and talk to me. He would ask how things were and would usually say something about how kind and good I was, at a time when I definitely wasn't feeling kind or good. Maybe he could see that I was falling apart when I couldn't! The words stuck with me and gave me a very positive impression of Catholicism. About five years later I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil service. And this year I wrote him a thank you email telling him about my conversion and thanking him for always being so kind.

So while I am upset when I read about what's going on at various Catholic Colleges and Universities, I am glad that I spent four years at SMC. Who knows if I would have been as open to Catholicism when my husband suggested I convert if I hadn't had the memory of kindness, years earlier, exactly when I most needed it.

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