Updated: Sep 24, 2018
Welcome back! Today's post revolves around a few of my thoughts that have been lingering since graduation. A bit lengthy, I hope you stick around to the end of this post because it might be my last one until move-in day and it's truly a story straight out of a movie.
For those who don't know (and that's most of you, since I clumsily failed to introduce myself in my first post) I graduated Archbishop Molloy High School this past June and I'll be attending Dartmouth College in a few months (Go Big Green!). I absolutely adore Dartmouth and its community, and like many other freshmen, I'm so beyond excited to move away.
That's the word that, with further analysis, I realized was capable of exciting me and terrifying me all at the same time. I absolutely love the fact that I'm going to meet new people and make new connections when I get to campus. I love that it's a complete change of scenery that I've been craving my whole life. I love that I'll be working alongside the best and brightest and most passionate in the nation come September.
But apart from the usual fears and anxieties of leaving my family, not having public transportation, living in the woods (lol), losing friendships, etc., my position in life as a Marist individual caused the development of a new concern that I wasn't prepared for.
How do I live out the Marist mission? Do I even know what it is? How do I make Jesus known and loved when I'm surrounded by people who haven't been through and seen the same things I have? People who haven't been to a Marist school like me or haven't gone on a retreat or Encounter?
My ability to spread my faith, I thought, extended only as far as the experiences I've had within this community. I had no idea how I'd be living a life like Champagnat when the only tools I had available to me were experiences that were foreign to my new classmates. It was this close-minded fear of mine that I thought would set me back a few steps faith-wise once I got to campus.
I didn't realize it at the time, but this little story of life can be paralleled to Champagnat's story of The Memorare in the Snow.
For those of you who don't know, here's the real quick lowdown:
Champagnat found out his pal Br. Jean Baptiste was sick and set out to visit him with a friend.
All went amazingly and Champagnat was on his way back when he got caught in a really bad snowstorm.
Conditions were worsening and worsening (seriously, their situation was the hottest mess ever). Champagnat turned to Mary and prayed the Memorare. In the snow. Hence the name of the story.
Eventually, a farmer by the name of Donnet kind of spontaneously appeared to check his stable using a route he didn't frequently use. However, by doing so, it allowed his lantern to be seen by Champagnat and Donnet took him in.
Since then, Champagnat saw his deliverance as an act of divine guidance. He went on to live the coolest life ever, as you can see by the development of this community that makes this blog post even possible.
The mini epiphanic moment I was having and fear I was experiencing of not being able to fully live out my vocation because of true new culture shock was Champagnat stuck in the storm. I was stuck in my head and in my own worries. I didn't exactly pray the Memorare, but I instead tearfully looked through my box of memories. It contains photos I have from Marist events, prayer cards, etc. That was my way of kind of reaching out to God and saying,
Well if ya gave me all this, please give me something to show me that I'll be alright.
One of the least addressed parts of this story is my main man Donnet. Most people recount the story of the Memorare in the Snow and just think that the Memorare is what saved Champagnat. That wasn't the case. The Memorare was Champagnat's way of calling out to God for help. His way of displaying, even under the most testing conditions, true faith in Christ. Donnet, however, was Champagnat's symbol. His lantern was what assured Champagnat that he was going to be alright, that he'd eventually continue to live out an extraordinary life.
So back to present day Diana.
Status at the time: slumping around and letting her worries get the best of her.
Then a day that she'd never forget came about. I was chatting in my college's GroupMe that has a good chunk of the school's incoming freshman class (even though it was mostly the same 10 or 15 people chatting in it). I mentioned something including the word "Marist" in the chat and literally proceeded to say "I know none of you know what that means but..."
A few responses later I read some guy named Guilherme reply to my message saying:
Wait, you're Marist?
Yep. There's my Donnet.
Turns out, Guilherme Marinho (WHO, may I add, barely ever spoke in the GroupMe before this instance... remind you of a certain farmer?) is a life long Marist from Curitiba, Brazil. He attended Colégio Marist Paranaense and will be attending Dartmouth in the fall as well. Despite living in a whole other country, we instantly started exchanging stories of our experiences and the way we live our lives. That same box of Marist memories I was calling out to God with? I started to open and share it with him. We're incredibly different, yet found some relatability between us and that's what allowed us to see the meaning behind each of our faith interpretations. It wasn't until recently that I realized what I was most afraid of, sharing my faith with someone who had different experiences, I was doing so effortlessly with him.
Indirectly, as if it were planned by God, my friendship with Guilherme was the lantern that let me know that everything was going to be alright. That if I just let the love and light I've absorbed from my Marist community shine through my interactions with anyone, I'll be fulfilling my mission.
Once again, I don't know where life will take me come tomorrow, come next week, come August 31st. What I do know and can offer as advice to you, reader, is that even in situations that seem incomprehensible by anyone else, you'll find your Lantern in the snowstorm. I'm really lucky I found mine.
Thanks for reading! Sending blessings your way today & always.