Thursday
September 29

Panta Rhei

By iquillen

There is a saying in Ancient Greek, attributed to the philosopher Heraclitus. That phrase, in Greek, is “τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει” (ta panta rhei kai ouden menei). It roughly translates to, “everything flows, and nothing stays.” Another saying attributed to Heraclitus along this vein is that you can’t step into the same river twice.

Both of these sayings can be summarized in two words: everything changes. The water that flows in a river is always shifting and flowing, so that when you step into a river for a second  time, it is no longer the same river. According to some accounts, one of Heraclitus’ students remarked that by that logic, you could not even step into the same river once, since the water continues to flow even as you set your foot into it.

As the temperatures cool, the rains settle in, and the seasons change, I am reminded of these sayings by Heraclitus. In some ways, they are a little disquieting. In several months, I will leave behind my time as an undergraduate at BU. Where I go from there, who can say now. But with that change, I may lose touch with many of the friends and people that I’ve grown close to at BU. I can’t deny that that’s at least a little scary.

At the same time, there is some peace that can be found in Heraclitus’ sayings as well. If all things change, then that means all things in life, including times of trial and hardship, will eventually pass on. How or when, I can’t say, but I know it will in time.

This does raise a difficult question, though: does the Divine change over time? Or do our conceptions of the Divine, and not the divine itself, ebb and flow? Some might argue that God is one of the few constants in the world that we live. Other people take heart in the fact that the Divine is eternal. And yet, I don’t think that means the Divine is static. The Divine can encompass so much, for so many people. How could something that vast be bounded, or limited, by being perpetually the same and not change?

These are questions that I don’t have an answer to, unfortunately. I don’t know if the Divine is constant, or ever-changing, or both. But when I look out at the Charles River in Boston, and I see the water ripple across the surface, I am reminded of the living presence of the Divine in the the river, in the people around me, and in the world around all of us. I am reminded of the words of the philosopher Heraclitus, words that contain some anxiety, some peace, and a lot of hope. And that, for now, is enough for me to ponder the Divine while embracing the flow that comes with the passing of the seasons.

Tuesday
September 27

Jose Fernandez

By Matthew Cron

This week’s blogpost was going to go in a completely different direction; however, tragedy has rocked a community that is dear to me. I am sure by now that you have heard of the tragic loss of Miami Marlins’ ace pitcher Jose Fernandez. Not only does his loss impact the team, but the entire baseball community.

Jose Fernandez is the ultimate story of perseverance and success. He had defected from Cuba to Mexico in his early teens and eventually was able to move to the United States and be drafted by the Marlins’ organization.

His excellence was not only apparent on the field, it was also shown off the field in his efforts to better the community and aid other immigrants to the country. Fernandez became a United States’ citizen in 2015 and was proud of both his heritage and his new nation.

As the son of an immigrant refugee and also a pitcher, I look to Jose Fernandez as an inspiration and role model. With the current negative stigma surrounding immigrants in this country, I think it is incredibly important for immigrants and their families to have people to look up to and model themselves after.

Fernandez was never seen without a smile on his face; his smile was electric. But his work ethic embodied the perfect opposition to the anti-immigrant population in this country. Fernandez had a gift and he worked hard to make sure that he was able to achieve his goals. He never gave up and always persevered. Like so many other immigrants before and after him, he came to this country with a goal and hard work ethic. He came for a reason. Nothing was given to him. He had to earn everything that he had. And he earned it.

Even though Jose Fernandez was a gifted baseball player, I believe the essence of his life was to inspire others. Whether it be on the baseball field or immigrant families coming to the United States, he used his position to help others. It is important to recognize how important his life was off the field, not just on it. May he rest in peace, but let his memory inspire others forever.

Sunday
September 25

Science + Religion

By kmshultz

Over the past few weeks, as I’ve gotten back into classes, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the relationship between science and religion. In my anthropology class, we started by reading Émile Durkheim’s The Elementary Forms of Religious Life in which he argues against the idea that science will supersede religion (many scholars of the day thought that all societies were moving towards increasing secularization and that eventually religion would be completely replaced by science). According to Durkheim, science could take over the function of the part of religion that categorizes and explains how the world works but it would never be able to provide the sense of the collective, the moral force that holds people together. However, as we discussed in class, the sense of the collective could be provided by other secular events (for example, a sporting event or the singing of the national anthem). So, while Durkheim does not agree with his contemporaries that science is better than religion and will eventually replace it, he also doesn’t necessarily provide a space in which religion and science can exist side by side.

Meanwhile, in my biological anthropology class, we’ve been talking about human evolution and, as is very evident in contemporary dialogue, evolution is not very popular in some sections of the religious community. Darwin took forever to publish his work On the Origin of Species in part because his wife was very religious and he didn’t want to hurt her with these ideas that seemed to contradict aspects of her faith. We also discussed the Scopes trial, alternatively known as the “Monkey trial”, in which a school teacher was tried and convicted for teaching evolution in schools. And then there is the movement that would like creationism and/or intelligent design to be taught alongside evolution in classrooms because, they argue, students need to be exposed to all sides of an argument. In all of these discussions in our class, religion is cast as the bad guy—the ill-informed, stubborn, and backwards who refuse to listen to reason while trying to impose their views on everyone. For many, religion is viewed with disdain and even contempt while science is the golden child—a logical way to describe and examine the world that is rooted in fact.

I have always been so puzzled by rhetoric that creates a war between religion and science. There is nothing in science that prohibits the existence of an all-knowing, powerful force (we just have no way to test or define it). Neither is there anything in religion that prohibits a rational approach to the world based on observation and experimentation. Religion and science occupy different territories—science examines the world around us while religion asks deeper questions about life and death, purpose and community. Science asks ‘how?’ while religion asks ‘why?’ Science feeds my brain while religion feeds my soul.

In a class I took several years ago, we read The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. In it, he speaks of science and spirituality (which, for the purposes of this blog, I equate with religion):

“Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality. When we recognize our place in an immensity of light-years and in the passage of ages, when we grasp the intricacy, beauty, and subtlety of life, then that soaring feeling, that sense of elation and humility combined, is surely spiritual. So are our emotions in the presence of great art or music or literature, or acts of exemplary selfless courage such as those of Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. The notion that science and spirituality are somehow mutually exclusive does a disservice to both.”

I don’t know why our society has this need to pit religion and science against each other. I don’t know why science treats religion with disdain while religion views science with suspicion. But I know that there are people out there who don’t see religion and science as opposing but complementary, who sit in the pews on Sunday and work in a lab on Monday, who can see the Divine working through evolution while finding the most intimate workings of a cell more proof of the complexity, vastness, and wonder of God’s creation. Science and religion are like filters through which to see the world. When used separately, you can see some things, but when used together, the world blooms into being, fuller and more intricate than you could have imagined. Science is not the opposite of religion but its complement. And I pray that the rhetoric of those who live in the realm of science and religion can be heard above the clamor of those who would pit them against each other.

Saturday
September 24

Hestia

By iquillen

There was a lit candle standing on the round table of the Thurman room. I had seen it before. Its flame had glowed and flickered softly, yet warmly, many times in that same room in the past. But what exactly was it doing here now?

In our one-on-one meeting, Soren asked me how First Sight and Second Thoughts applied to this candle. As I sat and pondered on its familiar yet unusual presence at this meeting, I paused for a few seconds. Then, I told him a story. Well, several stories, to be exact, loosely tied together by this one flame. What follows is a partial remembrance of those stories, and a partial reflection. It is not what I said to him verbatim. I may have added, removed, or changed details since then. The essence, however, remains the same.

This candle was at our most recent Marsh Associates meeting on Monday. Jen lit the candle, saying how it signified the presence of God in the circle. The Holy Spirit was said to have descended among the disciples and filled them at Pentecost, appearing as tongues of flame on their shoulders. It made sense that a flame, of all things, could serve as a symbol for the presence of the Divine.

The candle also reminded me of Jaimie, my friend and a former Marsh Associate who used to sit around that circle with me. She comes from the Unitarian Universalist tradition, and one of the symbols in the UU tradition is a chalice, a vessel with an open flame. I can’t speak to its significance as well as she can. But when I saw the candle, I was reminded of the chalice, and of her presence at the chapel.

Flames tend to remind me of the hearth. My very first reflection when I started at Marsh Chapel was called Where the Hearth Is, a reflection on home and its significance in my life coming to BU. I wrote at the time, “There is a saying that home is where the hearth is. For me, that means that home is a place of warmth, of love, but also pain. After all, home can hurt as much as comfort.” I make a slight distinction between what I wrote about then and the saying, “Home is where the heart is.” In this saying, home is tied to emotion. In the previous saying, it is tied to a hearth, a flame that can be either literal or figurative. The two sayings are closely intertwined, but they are not quite the same.

Thinking of the hearth reminded me of a book by Rick Riordan that was part of the Percy Jackson series, The Last Olympian. The Greek goddess of the hearth and of the home, Hestia, is a prominent character in that book, and probably my favorite of the entire series. When Percy, the series’ protagonist, first sees her in an earlier book, he hardly notices her. She appears as a young girl tending to the fire at the camp where he is saying. It is only when he sees Hestia for a second time that he acknowledges her. When I first came to BU, I wanted to leave home behind me. I wanted to ignore the impact it had in shaping me, the lasting pain that it had imparted to me. There was love there, yes, but it was a love that could both burn and comfort.

In high school, I read Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a book that opens with the line, “It was a pleasure to burn.” I wrote an essay about how the meaning and symbolism of fire changes throughout the novel. It starts as a tool of destruction, but by the end, it becomes a source of comfort. When Montag meets a circle of wandering ordinary, scholars, philosophers, and thinkers, they invite him to sit with them around a fire. A fire that does not hurt or destroy, but warms and comforts.

That was the hearth I wish my home was more growing up sometimes. But my home had both elements of fire that Fahrenheit 451–the generative, as well as the destructive. I wanted to leave behind its influence, and not let it negatively affect how I treated others and how I treated myself. In some ways, though, it already had.

Percy later meets Hestia again on Mount Olympus, when it is crumbling and almost deserted. Almost. She tells him that when all of the other gods are gone, she is the last one left, tending to the hearth. She is the Last Olympian. When all else fails and crumbles, what’s left is home–where we come from, where our roots are. Percy gives Hestia a jar containing Elpis, Hope. It was a gift given to him by Prometheus, with the message that should he decide to give up, he should let Elpis out of the jar to surrender. He should let go of Hope.

In the end, he decides to give the jar to Hestia. When she asks with astonishment why, given that she is the least of the Olympians, he tells her that it is because she is the Last Olympian, and the most important. He says that home is where hope survives best.

Hestia is a goddess in mythology that often seems neglected. Beyond Riordan’s series, there are very few well-known myths about her that I can think of. Perhaps that is the point. In the mythology, she yields her place on Olympus for Dionysus, the god of wine, and decides to tend to the fire to avoid conflict among the gods. She tells Percy that one of the most difficult things is knowing when to yield. To not always be the center of attention or the center of action, and to let things be. This is a skill that I greatly admire in people, and one that I take to heart and am still trying to develop in myself.

For a long time, I held on to an deeply buried, internal anger against my home, and against those who had deeply hurt me. It was not an anger that I showed or acknowledged publicly very often, but privately I did. I’ve been aware of its presence for a long time. More recently, it has served a purpose in helping me heal. But in my conversation with Soren last week, he pointed out that holding on to anger for long periods of time tends to hurt our relationships with each other, and with the Divine. He made several other points during that conversation, not all of which I agree with. But I will admit that there was some merit to what he said.

One of the things I’ve learned about emotions over time is that they tend to change, by nature. That change is something I’ve tried grown used to and have tried to acknowledge as I get older. There were certain emotions that I held on to, though. Maybe it was out of stubbornness, maybe it was because I lost sight of the fact that emotions can change. Maybe it was to protect myself in the environment I grew up in. But now, when I think about these emotions–in particular the anger, and the contempt I hold for certain experiences I’ve endured–I am reminded of Rick Riordan’s Hestia, who she is, and what she stands for. Home, the hearth, and the warmth and healing in those things as well. Marsh Chapel has, in many ways, become a home to me, as have the people that I’ve worked with and grown to care about.

I am reminded of her words: that one of the hardest things to do is to yield. That message is something that I take close to heart. And perhaps now, I can apply it to the parts of myself that I have acknowledged but ignored. I can yield the anger and contempt that resulted from so much pain. I can yield, and return to where the hearth is.

Friday
September 23

Facing Failure

By Nickholas Rodriguez

I have no idea how these next few days are going to play out. I am currently enrolled in a course on Operating Systems and I have a massive assignment due in a couple of days. It is a very challenging project – at least for me it is – and I thought it would be a good idea to take a moment from the all the madness and write a blog post for this week.

This assignment entails implementing a Shell in C or C++. For some, this probably does not sound challenging, but it definitely is for me.

Realizing this reminds me a brief conversation I had with a friend just earlier today. He asked me to join a club he is in earlier this semester. As we spoke and as he noticed the extreme stress painted over my face at the idea of implementing a Shell, he mentioned a much harder project he was working on. Slowly the conversation shifted towards the club and he mentioned it might be too much for me, and the time demands and commitments, and a high skill curve. Although I believe his intentions are genuinely good (I mean, I have already dropped some extracurricular activities I was a part of in order to allocate just enough time to manage my course work), his last comment on skill curves hit me a little deep as we parted ways and I continued onwards to the dining hall.

It was true though, and what was I thinking? I just dropped out of another extracurricular earlier this week.

I am still a little ashamed that I dropped out of an extracurricular organization. There were many important benefits in joining this organization that would have helped me in developing my leadership roles in SojournBU and potentially as a Marsh Associate. When I dropped out of the position in the organization, I felt defeated.

But sometimes, it is a lovely thing to fail. It is a lovely thing to fail. In the end of this all, I can only look back on my decisions for so long and feel remorse or defeated. But time continues to march on forward, and so must I. The only thing I can do now is embrace my humanity, my failures, and continue living on with them. And perhaps it is okay to retreat. The artist Michael Gungor once said “Burnout is what happens when you try to avoid being human for too long.” I honestly am not the best student, I am not the best computer engineer, I am not the best thinker, or the best writer, or the best student leader, or the best anything.

But that is okay. It is okay. It is okay to not succeed. It is okay to take a hit, to retreat.

Anyways, the fear of failure, of a very bad grade, of potentially harming my future plans and career choices with a very poorly designed Shell is currently stunning me and keeping me from facing this project with every inch of effort I have. I need to let it go. It is okay to take a hit. It is okay. Hopefully I keep this in mind as I return back to my project.

Friday
September 23

Selflessness

By Matthew Cron

My extracurricular activities were not as exciting as I would have hoped during my first year at Boston University. Some may know me as a Marsh Associate and blogger. Well, I am also going to BU to study in finance and, hopefully, one day become a financial analyst. Going back to my extracurriculars. Because I felt like I was not involved enough on campus, I decided that it would be a great idea to work with my friend and start our own club. And so the Financial Planner’s Association of Boston University was born.

Our first meeting was on Tuesday. No this blogpost is not going to be about the meeting, nor will it be an advertisement for people to come to my club –you should though. It is actually about something that happened on the way back from our first club meeting.

Our club meeting was on 53 Baystate Rd. (right behind Myles). As my E-board (Executive Board) and I were walking back from the meeting, we were also carrying leftover boxes of pizza –in case you were wondering, yes people who came to the first meeting got free pizza. For those of you who travel through Kenmore Square you may have noticed the kind homeless gentleman who sleeps right beside the City Convenience.

Out of nowhere, one of the members on my E-board gave placed a full box of pizza down by the man. Usually people (including myself) will give the man spare change, but never a lot. Never something substantial. But, out of the kindness of her heart the girl gave an entire pizza to the man. She did not have to. She could have kept it –it was really good pizza.

She didn’t. But what impressed me the most was the way that she acted as she gave the man the pizza. She went about it like it was no big deal, like it was just something that she does. She didn’t care about recognition or applause from us. No. She did it so naturally and quickly that it was apparent why she did it. She cared.

For the first time in a while, I literally stopped and could not believe what I saw. Sometimes there are acts of selflessness that cannot go unnoticed. And so I am devoting this blogpost to recognize the ‘nonchalant’ acts of kindness that happen everyday. Sometimes they can literally be right in front of you. We just have to notice them. We have to emulate them. There is a difference between giving back and being selfless. One of which encompasses the other, yet needs no recognition.

Wednesday
September 21

Untitled.

By Devin Harvin

Monday evening I spent my time welcoming the Black Community here at BU back to campus. A good turnout and a good time. I went to sleep excited about the work the Black Student Union could do on campus. Tuesday, I awoke, got myself situated for the day and went to the dining hall to eat my breakfast. Eggs, sausage and a whole wheat bagel, I was having a pretty good start to the day. Then I checked my social media, then I saw Terence Crutcher and that another black man has become a hashtag. For, what feels like the 100th time, my heart broke. I sat there alone contemplating, watching the video and then rewatching the video, searching for answers. There was only one, he was black. The police said he looked like “a bad guy”. Why? Because he was black. Then I realized that I too look like a “bad guy”, why? Because I’m black. The color of my skin allows others to have more privilege than and that I knew. But I was reminded, that it makes me a target. I was reminded right then that I have the upmost respect for Colin Kaepernick. I was reminded that no matter how much I learn and how well I dress of how well I carry myself, to a portion of the United States, I am nothing but someone who looks like a “bad guy”. It just so happens that the portion who sees me a bad guy  are supposed to protect my rights as a citizen of the United States. I finished my breakfast, said a prayer for the Crutcher family and thanked God that he let me see another day. Yes, I’m tired of the hashtags. Yes, I am also tired of protesting every month. And yes I am tired walking pass the police station and not feeling safe. But at this point of time, in this country, I’m just grateful to be tired.

I wrote the above on Tuesday. I thought above leaving it out of my weekly blog. I wanted it to leave my mind, for me to be okay with this reality. I wasn’t. I couldn’t help but question why this has to happen. Why we are living through the reality that we are. Why every other week it’s the same story but a different name. Every time I read more about Terence Crutcher the more I had to fight to hold back tears. He looks just like my father, my best-friends father, and it hit me to close to home very time I thought more about. I searched scriptures about waiting, nothing helped. I searched about pain, nothing spoke to me. I pulled my bible out and searched for answers. I sat alone and hoped it would come to me. A story, a psalm, anything for me to feel something other than what I felt. I went to Proverbs 3: 5-6 and it says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. That’s what I’ll sit with. I think it’s enough for now. I just hope the path straightens soon.

Tuesday
September 20

Stillness

By Denise-Nicole Stone

One of my favorite verses of the Bible is from Psalm 46, “Be still and know that I am God”. I have always been drawn to it. I think there is something really beautiful and deeply assuring about that sentence and about stillness and quiet. I love it, yet I have also always struggled with it. I have a very hard time sitting still. I am a go-er, a do-er. I thrive in movement.

Returning to campus has made me realize how much I missed walking this summer. I really enjoy walking to class because it gives me the chance to slow down and to reflect on my day. I have the time to notice the flowers and the sky and the countless other beautiful sights of my commute. So much of my attention here is focused on the future – What I have to do that day. What assignments are coming up? What am I doing with my life? But when I walk down Comm. Ave, my focus is on the present. I notice the rhythm of rain on my umbrella. The reflection of the sun off the Pru. I admire the canopy of trees on Bay State road. With every step, I breathe in the beauty of this world, the wonders of this moment. And I recognize God all around me. What those walks have shown me, more than anything else, is that “stillness” is a spiritual posture. Despite the inherent motion of walking, those moments are a time for me to be fully present. And as I tune in to the present moment, I find my heart and my mind becoming still. In that moment, I’m at peace. As I reach my destination my cup is full, I am refreshed, and ready to keep moving.

Saturday
September 17

Belief, and Questioning

By iquillen

In my post from last week, I mentioned two things about myself: one is that I study neuroscience, and the other is that I happen to work at Marsh Chapel. This speaks to the fact that science and religion overlap significantly in my life on campus. You are as likely to find me doing neuroscience research as you are to find me doing ministry. Spaces dedicated to science or ministry have become centers for me, places where I can ground myself and become deeply present in what I do.

It still surprises me that I’ve created a space for myself in these places, and that in them, science and religion can coexist peacefully. I remember hearing stories in high school biology class about certain school districts that would not teach evolution to their students, instead opting for alternative views such as creationism or intelligent design. From these stories, I gathered that science and religion were not very compatible ideas.

A question that I’ve pondered since then is: why? Why the conflict, why the stark dichotomy? It wasn’t until I took a biological anthropology class my sophomore year that I started to think of a coherent answer. My professor explained to us in his first few lectures that science fundamentally relies on approximation. Its guiding principles of the scientific method, of making observations, asking questions, and testing hypotheses, ultimately attempt to approximate the truth of how the world works. The theories that explain so many natural phenomena around us are models that can be revised and added to over time. They help us understand reality as we observe it, and as we can think about it.

Religion has, in my opinion, a strikingly similar goal. It attempts to help us understand something beyond us, and that something depends on the tradition you adhere to. It is a way for us to connect to and approximate (literally “come close to”) a deep truth, much in the same way that science attempts to bring us closer to a deep truth as well. The difference lies in the methods they use. Science tends to base itself on observations, which lead to hypotheses, which over time and through rigorous testing and verification can eventually form theories. Religion, on the other hand, has a different set of methods. Faith, theology, prayer, spiritual practices, meditation, scripture, and service are only a few of the methods I can think of that people use to create and maintain a relationship with the Divine.

When you think about it in terms of the methods they use, I think the conflict between them makes more sense. Tensions tend to arise when one masquerades as the other, and tries using the other’s methods. I personally think it would be inappropriate to go into a school and teach children scripture while calling it science. I would equally call it inappropriate to give a lecture on human brain anatomy or perform an experiment in a place of worship and call that religion (although, to be fair, the second part has happened before–and by that I mean an experiment in a place of worship. Not the masquerading as religion part). These examples may sound extreme and perhaps absurd, but that’s precisely my point. I think it is wholly possible to acknowledge science and religion, and to have them coexist peacefully. But I do think it is also necessary to acknowledge what they are based on, in order to appreciate the wisdom and insight each one provides.

I realize I have probably said at least a few controversial things in the past three paragraphs. If you completely disagree with what I’ve just said, that’s okay. I acknowledge that there are many different perspectives on the relationship between science and religion. If you come away from this reflection with utter disbelief that I even tried breaching the subject, I can understand that, too. If either of these are the case, though, I have one question: If thorny issues such as the one I’ve described are never discussed publicly, then how can one expect the tension surrounding them to ever abate? I think it’s unreasonable to expect conflict, especially among ideas, to disappear if we either refuse to acknowledge it or throw our hands up in the air and say tackling it is impossible. I think religion and science is a subject that is inherently charged and often personal. And I will also acknowledge that perhaps the issue will never be completely resolved.

I have hope that it will, though–at least for myself, if no one else. That hope rests on something that is a part of both religion and science. If you have read any of my previous blog posts, you may have noticed that I tend to ask questions. A lot. I can assure you that they aren’t just a rhetorical device. Questions are one way for me to frame things that I think about. They help me frame and deepen my views of science, and they also help me deepen my views of religion, and everything that comes with both of these ideas. You may not believe a word of what I’ve written in this reflection–in other words, you question it. And that, simply put, is the beauty of questioning. Whether we believe something to be true because we have evidence of it, or because we have convictions for it, we retain that ability to question, an ability that allows us to grow spiritually and intellectually. And if this post has left you with nothing else, then may it leave you with a few questions of your own to guide you and your beliefs.

Saturday
September 17

More Alive

By Nickholas Rodriguez

Hello, my name is Nick Rodriguez, and this is my first blog post in the Marsh Vocation Internship blog.

I am a Junior in the College of Engineering studying Computer Engineering. I have spent time in leadership as the Vice-President of SojournBU, a Christian student organization in Boston University’s wonderful, vibrant, and diverse spiritual life. I love reading theology, philosophy of religion, and books surrounding the psychology behind the various facets of life that give us human beings meaning. I recently finished reading How to Be Here by Rob Bell, Love Sense by Sue Johnson, and I’m working my way through Insurrection by Peter Rollins. Nothing lifts my spirits like a good book and a nice cup of coffee on a cloudy day.

I really love technology, and that’s why I am a Computer Engineering major. I came to this inspiring school in this wonderful city because my siblings came up here (although they went to different schools), because I found it awesome that BU had both a College of Engineering and a School of Theology, and also because of my girlfriend, Jen. She and I applied mostly to various schools in Boston and the surrounding area, hoping to increase the probabilistic chance of being near each other in college. I ended up here, and she ended up at Northeastern. Now, several years later, I still see her every day and I am thankful for that.

I was also a former Student Advisor for BU’s Summer Orientations for incoming freshman. There, I helped in academic advising, and I was one of the many student representatives to set the tone for Boston University’s global and pluralistic culture. There, I (hopefully) worked to help the nerves of incoming freshman, to meet them where they are and be there for them, and change their anxiety into excitement.

During that work last summer, I spent time meeting many different students from different cultures, personal identities, interests, religious identities, and societies. It was incredible. I felt like we were all different paintbrushes, painting our different stories and identities onto the great canvas that is our school and our city. I can’t wait to see where everyone I meet here will go on with their lives; I genuinely believe that every staff member, every student, and every leader I met is going to do incredible things someday.

Anyways, I am also an introvert. Some may describe me as awkward. It took a lot of energy and effort to be a student leader during Summer Orientation. To be completely honest, it was incredibly hard and scary for me. I recall thinking to myself as I met my fellow orientation staff members, ‘I do not belong as a staff member here…what do I even have to offer?’ Several months later, I do actually believe I did a great job as a Student Advisor. I may not be the most social individual and I may not be the toughest, or the coolest person, but I poured my heart and soul out for my fellow leaders and for the students. And, I feel like sometimes that is all a person really needs to do. Sometimes, being truly there for someone and being present for everyone around you and being able to let them know that you have their back, that you got them – sometimes that is all a leader needs to do. Showing someone that you genuinely care about them makes all the difference.

Anyways, I am sitting here in the Science and Engineering Library at BU and I’m writing this blog and ironically, this song by Jon Bellion titled “He is The Same” is playing. And the song discusses how the artist has grown as an artist, and his fan base has grown and he has gained some fame and fortune, and yet, as he sings, he says “Nothing has changed, he is the same”. Jon Bellion is the same Jon Bellion. This song speaks to me.

I mean, here I am. I was a former student leader at BU’s summer orientation. I made a lot of new close friendships. I have settled into a few leadership positions this fall. I’ve grown as an engineering student. I feel closer to the Ground of my Being. I can tell I have positively impacted many students as I can see by the many people I say hello to everyday, and because I can see my students settling into college safely and ready to take on the coursework. But, at the end of the day, I am still the same Nick Rodriguez. To be honest, I did have to act incredibly social all summer, but even now I am still fairly introverted, and somewhat scared of people. It’s incredible because I know I have grown, and I can see myself growing, but I am still the same Nick.

I honestly have no idea what I am doing, but I think sometimes, just like I had to be truly present as a student advisor, and be there for everyone around me, I now just have to truly be present with my friendships, with my family, with my coursework, with this internship, with this student leadership position in SojournBU, and just as another human being moving through existence on this planet. I know I have changed, for the better, because I still see myself: I am still Nick Rodriguez. What I mean by this is that I can tell that I have grown as a person – that growth is the change I have experienced. I haven’t lost a sense of myself, I did not feel myself slipping from the things I care about, the identities I cherish in myself, the people I care about, and from myself, but I can see that my perspectives and identities have grown within themselves and that I am still making the same strokes as the paintbrush I am on this canvas. I can see that my paintbrushes have added more to the canvas, and that they have somehow become more lively and beautiful. I think I have become more confident and I have learned that I can have a deeply positive impact on those around me.

This summer made me more alive and I am excited to see where this school year takes me.