Wednesday
April 27

Final Reflections from Freshman Year

By Devin Harvin

Sitting in the second floor of the George Sherman Union, writing the last essay of freshman year, I can only be grateful. Grateful for the obstacles that made me feel like quitting and going back home. Grateful for the success I felt after receiving my first A paper. Grateful for confirming the decision I made this time a year ago to attend Boston University. I won’t be too reflective and dwell on my feelings entering my last week as a freshman. Instead, I’ll write a letter to high school seniors.

Dear Senior,

First off it’s okay to cry. Moreover, its normal to feel like you can’t continue on the challenging path called Freshman year. I’ve done both many times over this first year. Secondly, college is hard, painful, enlightening, developing, ugly and beautiful simultaneously. Embrace every part of it. Don’t find the painful or dwell on the beautiful for too long. Third, stick to your beliefs and find your group. Coming into college I wanted to “reinvent” myself, become a better and improved Devin. I was willing to change who I was, what I believed in, and felt that I had to. You don’t. I’ve found a group of people who believe and accept me, and encourage me to be the individual that I am. Fourth, if your into God like I am, take time to focus on God. It does wonders for your soul. All nighters and last minute papers could not have been written if I didn’t have the opportunity to focus on God. If it’s for 1 minute or  1 hour it can make a difference. Lastly, enjoy your first year, because it goes so fast. I remember moving in, fighting back tears when my parents left and nervously introducing myself to new people. It feels like yesterday, but you’ll grow so much in such a small amount of time.

Sincerely,

Devin.

All praises to the most high for giving me the strength to succeed at Boston University and the courage to share it with others. I am so excited for what God has in store for me in the future years. Sitting in the second floor of the George Sherman Union. writing the last essay of freshman year, I feel accomplished.

Wednesday
April 27

Home Sick

By cbjones8

In all of my time at BU never can I remember a time so distinctly when I was as home sick as I am now.  I miss my family, my partner, my dog.  Perhaps because after all of the stresses of college I associate being home with rest, and I really long for rest.  Maybe it is because I have been sick, and I always get a little home sick when I am actually sick.  Maybe it is because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and I am all the more eager to return to the familiar.

There have been moments along the way when Boston felt like home.  There will forever be a part of my soul that is attached to this place.  I love this city.  But even too much of a good thing can drive you crazy.  I miss looking up and seeing the stars.  I miss the sounds of frogs and crickets (rather than construction and sirens).  I miss my mom’s cooking (though she did teach me all I know and I am not a terrible cook myself).  I miss having family dinners on the deck outside, I miss local hiking trails.  I miss perhaps, the slightly slower pace of it all.  Maybe I am just tired.

I am about to graduate from college, and I am almost ironically homesick.  While all my peers scramble to get one last of (insert college activity here) in before graduation, I long deeply for the comforts of home, and the knowledge of being done.

I am almost there, to the end.They say home is where the heart is, and my heart is not here.  It is of no fault of Boston, it is simply where my heart is.  Perhaps it reinforces my reflections from last week; I am ready for the next chapter.

Amen.

Saturday
April 23

Art Museums

By iquillen

I have a confession to make: I’m not particularly fond of going to art museums. I don’t feel this way because I think art is dull, boring, or worthless. To the contrary, I think art is an incredibly powerful means of expression. It pushes our intellectual and emotional boundaries, can convey deep messages, or it can simply exist and stand alone as something to be engaged with, admired, or contemplated.

When I went on field trips to art museums with schools, though, that never seemed to be the focus. The trips always felt like going on a very long tour, where I had to stick to the group’s pace. I would groan inwardly whenever the group lagged behind to look at something I wasn’t particularly interested in. The worst part, though, was not being able to go off and explore the museum on my own. It didn’t help that sometimes I felt a little bored looking at just paintings, and my sense of patience hadn’t fully matured yet.

It might come as a surprise, then, that I went to the Institute of Contemporary Art in South Boston earlier today. And frankly, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I went to the ICA with a few friends and a professor from class. We spent a few hours exploring the exhibits, mostly on our own. As I wandered from room to room, several pieces caught my attention. In one room, a round table had numerous cut-outs of sculptures, from different periods and styles. In another, a giant cube made of pins dominated the center of the room. In another still, series of photographs flashed by, and each set had a different series of sounds paired with it.

Traditionally, I’ve considered art to involve only one of the senses. Painting and sculpture lay in the visual sphere, music fell in the auditory realm, and dance fell into touch and a kinesthetic category of its own. The exhibits that I explored today, though, showed me that art can combine and engage any and all of these senses. The colors, the sounds, and the textures of the pieces all contributed to creating an experience of the art itself, and not just a viewing of it.

I am a firm believer of immersing oneself into an experience in order to truly appreciate it. Sometimes it is not enough to see something. Engaging more than one of our senses in an art exhibit, or any other experience, deepens that moment of interaction. It attunes us more to what we are observing. Instead of simply seeing something, we are feeling it. And in turn, art can make us feel something, whether that emotion is awe, disgust, or confusion. That experience, in my opinion, is what makes art museums worth going to, even if it happens to be on a field trip.

Thursday
April 21

Isolated Growth

By Devin Harvin

The most important people in my life have always given me the space to be me. They rarely crowd or look to control my actions. In perhaps the biggest decision of my life, choosing what college I would attend, my parents gave me complete control. They informed me of the financial situations and left me to decide where I would attend college to me. I feel that is how my relationship with God is, he gives me the freedom to act how I will. My parents and God have many things in common, (no my parents are not God) but most apparent is a trust in me. They had trust in the child they raised, and I believe, that God trust in the person that has been trying to live more like his son for years. My parents never questioned my decision to attend BU and supported me throughout the  entire process. Till this day they demonstrate this trust in me, they only call when they miss me, not to check up on me, but to simply talk to me.

I like to believe that me and God have a special friendship. I know he has my back and he knows I have his. God has allowed me to grow by giving me space. Space that can feel lonely and isolating, but that is where I grow the most. When I’ve been alone and believed to be without God, I have undergone the most impactful change. Alone is where I made my college decision and alone in college is where I’ve grown in the best way.

Thursday
April 21

Summertime!

By Matthew Cron

For this is one of my favorite times of the year! As a native New Englander, Patriot’s Day marks off the unofficial start to summer! Although I enjoy winter sports (snowboarding in particular), The summertime is a time in which I feel the most joy and happiness. The weather has already begun to get warmer, and the trees and flowers are beginning to bloom again. The Red Sox season is in full swing and the NFL draft is quickly approaching. Although the New Year is in January, at the beginning of each summer I like to think back on the previous year and look forward to the new one.

Life is in an everlasting cyclical pattern, everything is in motion at the same time. If you remember Jaimie Dingus’ poem during the Easter Morning Sunrise Service, there is a sort of rebirth that has begun to happen everywhere.

For me this joy of new birth comes less from a theological standpoint and more of a personal standpoint. I thoroughly enjoy the ornate beauty of this time in the seasons. Everything is warmer and seemingly more accessible. It is almost as if during the summer time the world is at your disposal to do things you could on do the summer prior.

With all this freedom I have some things that I hope to accomplish. I will not go as far as to say all, but most people share at least some of the feelings I have towards the summer months. I think summer is a great opportunity to go out and connect with people; to start interpersonal relationships and reach out to our neighbors. I understand that not all people are compatible, and so not all people will get along. I do not mean to go out and make friends with everyone on the face of the Earth. But, I think it is very important to go and meet new people, form new friendships, or enhance current ones.

Spending time with friends or making new ones can be beneficial both to our spiritual and personal lives. Meeting new people opens up insight into how they may or may not worship. You may meet someone who is from a different religious background than you. This person could be just like you, or not like you at all. That does not mean that you cannot connect with them and become friends. On a personal and social aspect, you may learn something new about the world or find a new way of looking at things.

All in all, this time of year is wonderful! I hope you all enjoy it and set some time aside to be able to go outside, enjoy the weather, and make new friends along the way.

Wednesday
April 20

Change is in the Air

By cbjones8

Today I registered for classes for Fall 2016 at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.

It’s real.  It is actually happening.  I am so excited!!!

As graduation approaches it seems like everyone is trying to hang out just one more time.  Everyone is scrambling to get their work done in the face of senioritis.

I too am doing all of those things.  It’s hectic, but good.  I am so excited about what God has in store for me in the next chapter of my life.  I am ready for the next thing.  I have enjoyed this journey here at BU.  I can’t believe how fast it has gone.

I am moved by the love and support I have received here at BU.

This blog is short.  I am not sure I have much left to say.  I am ready for whatever lies on the next page.  I am ready. Amen.

Wednesday
April 13

Suffer to Succeed

By Devin Harvin

I was participating in Bible Study last Thursday night and we read a verse in Romans ( I am 77 percent sure, it has been a long week), and we landed on the topic of suffering. I listened to stories of struggling with classes and questioning your major and fears of financial problems and waisting time. I felt empathy listening to everyone speak about their struggles and really did pray that they found peace. I genuinely desired happiness and confidence to be instilled in these individuals and I was almost moved to tears listening to their struggles and their questioning of God and why ask Christians we have to struggle so much. However, I had nothing to share. By no means have I never experienced struggle. I’ve had a far share of financial problems, tried so hard in class and still fell short and questioned God when illness struck my family. But, at this moment and in the past years, maybe since the summer going into Junior year, I’ve always known that God would allow me to overcome my struggle. I tried to articulate this in bible study and explain that I’m very confident in my major, in myself and I have been blessed these past years in my life. Another participant responded, “just wait, it will hit you too”. The individual quickly understood the meaning of the words and tried to rephrase with, “use this time of blessing to will you through your struggles.” I understood what the person wanted to say, I appreciated the honesty, but I could not ignore a large question in my mind. Do Christians have to struggle?, is it possible for it to be all good and not have to have a dark time?

I would argue on the contrary. Call me an optimist, pollyanna, or naive to realities of life but I believe that with God it can be all good. Now my version of good is different than everyone else’s version. I’ve been “good” for a while now. I got into to an amazing college, I found two subjects that I really have a passion for (in the library right now) and I feel closer than ever to my family. Forgive me for the cliche but, Life is Good. Though I appreciate the individual that wanted to warn me of the pain they currently feel, I will take caution, but if I never dive into the realm of painful suffering, I will not be surprised.

Wednesday
April 13

Clarifying My Last Post

By Matthew Cron

Last week I wrote a post about being a first generation american and how that has affected me. I also talked about how people should not categorize others based off of what they look like, sound like, or where we are from.

Today I am going to elaborate more on the main points and ideas that I touched on. My last blogpost came off as being very nationalistic (which in some way was my intent). However, i failed to mention a key aspect to my side. And that is, people should be able to define themselves not the other way around.

I support people saying that they like to be described in a certain way. If someone is an American citizen but refers to be defined as something else, then I have no problem with that. The truly irritating part for me is when someone wants to be described as an American and is instead generalized into some other category.

Although I did have a really nationalistic post, I too like to describe myself as being Portuguese. I would never want to lose that part of my history and heritage. It angers me when someone neglects to respect the fact that I am not just some white kid. Yes that is the color of my skin, but that does not mean I am not Portuguese.

I sympathize with people in our culture today who are struggling with issues relative to mine. For those of African descent who are trying to stand up for both their rights and/or traditions. I sympathize with you. I know that I have far different experiences than you have, however, through my own experiences I have built a level of respect and understanding for the motives behind your movements. I sympathize with those people who are of mixed descent and are not truly accepted by both races. And I sympathise with anyone who feels as though the way they are described by others varies from how they describe themselves.

 

Sunday
April 10

This Too Shall Pass

By iquillen

Weeping may linger for the night,
    but joy comes with the morning.”

Psalm 30, verse 5

One of the hymns that that was sung in this morning’s service was hymn 383 from the United Methodist hymnal, “This is a Day of New Beginnings.” As the congregation began singing the melody, I recalled two things. One was the verse from psalm 30 quoted above, which was also read over the course of the semester. The other was a memory from the last time I sang this hymn last semester. I remember starting to sing the first verse, and I choked when I read the verse’s lyrics.

I read those lyrics at a time when I was undergoing a time of deep, chronic pain. I was still trying to figure out how to move forward with it. In high school, I once had a conversation with my English teacher about how to deal with this kind of pain. He told me, “This too shall pass.” This message was phrased differently by the Trevor Project, an organization that was responding to a series of teenage suicides in the Midwest several years ago. Its message was, “It gets better.”

These two phrases have very different meanings if you look at them closely. One simply states that things will change, while the other says that things will improve. I also heard these two phrases in starkly different contexts. Despite the difference in meaning, these two statements do have one thing in common: they emphasize the role of time and change in moving on.

Truthfully, I’ve always found the first statement to be more helpful. The idea that everything will change eventually and nothing lasts seems paradoxically more comforting to me than the idea that life gets better. Frankly, I don’t think the latter is always helpful. There are periods of grief in mourning in our lives that must be acknowledged before they we can pass on from them. To simply say that it will get better seems to trivialize the anguish and sorrow of those moments. And sometimes, the wounds left behind on one’s heart from these moments never fully heal. They leave behind scars that remain and perhaps will fade in time, but the scars can still be painful when we brush against them.

I think one of the most difficult parts in moving on from pain is acknowledging the pain itself. It can sometimes be easier to look to the future, to hope for a time when the pain will be less heavy and burdensome. But for someone who is in the middle of deep, heartfelt grief, telling them to look to the future doesn’t always help them deal with the present moment as much. Grief and sorrow are very difficult emotions to overcome, and unlike the verse from Psalm 30, they rarely go away overnight. This is why there is some deep wisdom in what my English teacher told me many years ago. Sorrow and grief will always exist, but in time they, too, will change and become less burdensome. In time, we may be able to look back on them with newfound joy that somehow makes them have less on a hold in our lives. And although these emotions may never completely disappear, we at least can recognize that they too, will inevitably pass. I may not be able to say how and when, but I do believe that it will happen. And that, as infuriating and incomplete as it may be, is enough to help me move slowly forward.

Thursday
April 7

The Pleasure in Discomfort

By Devin Harvin

I miss the music. I miss the drums and the piano and the bass. I miss the clapping and smiles, and the rhythms that helped me fall in love with God. I miss knowing every song and anticipating every change in beat. I miss, most of all, the feeling I had when poorly singing the songs I grew up on. Maybe the music is a microcosm for missing home and the place I went to every Sunday for 18 years. Seeing the same people and hugging the same children every sunday, anything different seems foreign. But I’ve learned that foreign isn’t bad. Foreign forces you to grow and test what has been instilled in you. What is foreign is tough and complicated, but it is worth the struggle period. In fact foreign is necessary. Without foreign, you remain in a bubble, incapable of escaping the world where everyone has the same opinion as you. I’ll be forever indebted to my church family and the man that they have helped me become. However, I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t expose myself to what is considered foreign. If I didn’t grapple with Bhagvad Gita or understand the anti-semitism found in the book of John in particular, then I remain in a world that does not exist.

Perhaps I should have begun this by saying, I miss the comfort. The comfort made me feel good and safe. I felt that I was the best at my bubble: I knew bible trivia better than anyone else, I could recite scripture, and I genuinely loved God. I enjoyed going to church and I learned more and more about God every week, but I wasn’t being challenged. Instead I pull the blanket of a church over my head and ignored any outside opinions. I ignored variation, and different paths and focused solely on the ideas I knew best. I can no longer stay under the comfortable covers, I have to come out and at least look at the blankets of Buddhism and Hinduism and simply other people’s way of thinking about Christ. I have to try to understand and climb off the shoulders of christianity and look at everyone on the same eye level.