Final Reflections from a Graduating Senior on Faith, SCU and how both influenced each other
What is the measure of my experience here at Santa Clara University in regards to my faith?
Thinking about my college experience, and wondering about what happened to me during the 4 years of my life I devoted to Santa Clara University, perhaps the biggest problem I have with myself is my capacity for self-criticism. On the one hand, I know that I have the capacity for boundless arrogance when approaching a day to day routine, so that my self-criticism are gone, doing as I please rather than trying to think as hard about what I’m doing as I move forward through the day. In fact, as I read this after typing it, I am sorely reminded that I have multiple tabs open at once, reflecting the several different projects I needed to finish before I graduate. There’s a lot of guilt that I feel very regularly on a day to day basis. Guilt over lost opportunities, guilt that in needing to prioritize some things, I had to let down my friends gently over some activities, guilt over my feelings of inadequacy when I know I should know better, guilt that despite being a man of many groups, I still feel like I am a man of no group at the same time. A great plant with many roots, but who always feels like he could’ve gone deeper if he just stopped thinking about himself and his own sins.
But, that’s more of me seeing myself in the last 4 years. And that’s always been a great problem I’ve had with myself in searching for God in college. Oh sure, I could point to moments during the time where I felt there was something stronger in me and around me that connected me to God through various activities, but I think this also ties into another problem I have with my faith: the fact that I have it at all is a blessing and a gift, but my great problem is that now I’m forever unsatisfied with my life until I can feel that same gift come again. Chasing spiritual highs rather than maintaining spiritual paths. In addition, that self criticism says to me, “You numbskull. 4 years, and you still feel like the same lazy yet smart guy you were when you came in here. How have you ever made spiritual progress in all this time when you feel like you’ve been spinning wheels as well?”
But perhaps that’s why some groups I joined on campus were so important for me.
The first of these is the Christian Life Community, or CLC. CLC was so important for me because when it was too easy to give in to self deception, busy activity, and choking God out of my life, CLC forced me into a place where I would always need to be honest with the people around me. As I am the eternal nomad among my other friend groups, CLC was a kind of anchor that I appreciated. Some of the friends I made among CLC I consider my best friends now, and far beyond that, the people I talk with week after week are the people who I would trust with my demons, my struggles, my triumphs, my frustrations, and my hope.
Of course, CLC wasn’t the end all be all of my finding God in my life as I rolled from day to day. The 5 day silent retreat was a magnificent time, and I have never come so close as to letting my own burdens go like I did on that trip. And though it didn’t last forever, there was a time when I began to appreciate the value of silence even more. In fact, campus ministry was a big help for me going through college. Going through freshman year, it was an oasis. A place to feel safe and confident talking to the people who’d pass through those glass double doors. A place to find mentors. And a place to do my bible reading even when I so stubbornly refused to discipline myself to do that more often. Both bible study and Interfaith were very important places for me to be during the week. A time to think about what I truly believe, and understand the other side of things as well.
Then there was Core Christian Fellowship. While not exactly the same as CLC for keeping me honest, it did give me a more expansive community with multiple people I felt could draw me closer to God in the process. Mark, Clarissa, Dale, Katya, and so many others who helped comfort and challenge me as a continued to move through the college process. There I found people whom I could see on a daily basis to remind me of my commitment to God, to Jesus and to community on a basis that others didn’t or couldn’t. Not to mention the wider web it opened up for me seeing that God really does lead you everywhere.
There have been many times with friends where I felt God coming closer, whether it was encouraging a stranger to begin his exploration into God, or being the best I could to represent the Gospel to others. Perhaps my favorite moment in thinking about seeing God move at SCU was talking with a man named rico in the dorms sophomore year. He just wanted some help from me understanding how Christianity worked for his class, and I did the best I could to speak from my own theology to help him. Yet down the line, I found out he actually got confirmed, and I’d like to believe that I was part of that process.
Finally there was The Mission and Peninsula Bible Church. Places I was allowed to join and grow in as home churches during my college years. It was just a true grace to find Peninsula Bible when I was looking for a home church through CORE, but it was always a true blessing to hear the jesuits speak about God’s power and grace at the mission. The discussions, the sermons, the songs, both places pushed me to grow, to love, to think, to see others reaffirm their commitment to Christ, to have barbeques, find out how their journey was going, have mentors like Father Jack Tracey, and just be truly rooted in God’s truth as I tried to understand what my truth was as I moved towards a bigger world.
Seeing God in this life is never easy, but I believe that I have seen him in several occasions. So, thank you. Thank you to Santa Clara University for 4 years of wonderful growth, discussion and blessings. I guess I really have seen Christ working in my life after all.