Threads of Life
This school year started off as most do: I moved in, I ran into friends I haven’t seen for a summer, I started classes without having bought all the textbooks. Yet, despite the familiarity of it all, there was still a sense that something was different. Because I am a senior and this is my last year as an undergraduate at Santa Clara, all of the things I would usually think of as mundane have had a bittersweet touch. During the first Mass of the quarter, I kept thinking to myself, "This is my last first Mass at SCU." Instead of running out of patience during syllabus week, I held onto every word spoken by my professors. "This is my last Week One of Fall Quarter." This is my last this, this is my last that. What is usually a time of new beginnings became, for me, a time of endings.
I think people tend to look at their lives like textbooks; as a collection of chapters or separate chunks of time that are easy to file into the back of the mind. We organize our experiences as broken up pieces of time. Childhood, middle school, high school, college, career, retirement. We insert our memories within these periods, memories like when we learned to drive, had our first kiss, when we traveled to another country. In our minds, it becomes a collection of chapters, with fairly clear beginnings and endings. For me college started in September of 2010, and it is going to end June 2014. Easy, right?
In the few weeks since school began, I’ve been thinking about the reality of this, though. While there have been certain periods of time in my life that are divided by age, there are more things that have been threads weaving in and out unexpectedly. My family has always been a consistent force. And even though my grandfather died in the summer of 2011, his influence and spirit still touch my life today. My high school friends have continued with me after graduation. The reading skills I learned in Kindergarten still help me as an English major and a tutor in the Hub. In many ways, Santa Clara has been a thread throughout my whole life: I attended Kids on Campus as a toddler when my mother still worked at the university.
I’ve realized that we are not a collection of separate time periods, but instead our lives are more fluid. People and places flow in and out, while others give us foundation. My parents have always been there for me, and, as I came to realize in the past few years, God and Jesus have been there too. Gaining a deeper understanding of my spirituality has been one of the most important things I’ve received from my education at Santa Clara. If you had told me Week One freshman year that I would be attending Mass weekly–and enjoying it!–I wouldn’t have believed you. Nowadays, you can find me every Sunday at 9:00 pm sitting near the front of the church singing and praying and even occasionally proclaiming the word. What a fantastically strange ride the past few years have been!
As I continue with the rest of my senior year, one of my spiritual goals is to refrain from thinking about everything as a “last,” but instead view events as little threads of goodness that will forever impact my life. God has given me four years of college not as just another chapter in the Book of Marissa, but as a gift of learning and growth that will impact me for the rest of my life.
I suppose the most telling example of the continuity of life’s threads came to me on the day that I moved into my new house on Bellomy Street. As my mom parked and we began to unload my stuff, she said, “Oh my gosh. You’re living right across the street from Kids on Campus!” She looked at me, looked at my first school, and looked back at me. “Maybe you haven’t actually gone too far in life!” she said, and we both laughed. Of course I’ve come a long way since my days at Kids on Campus, but perhaps what my mother said had a grain of truth. Despite my growth, deep down I am built of all that has happened in my life so far, and I hope to continue on the path that God has so wondrously laid out.
Marissa is a senior English and Women's and Gender Studies double major. She hopes to complete a year of service after she graduates from SCU.