On giving thanks – 11.29
On November 29, 2011, I am thankful for Notre Dame.
I can’t write a month of posts on thankfulness without mentioning it. In fact, I have put it off until the end because I consistently fail to locate the words that can convey my thankfulness for this place, this home, this family, this spirit, that is my Notre Dame. It is the place, I think, where I learned how to be thankful.
It is easy to take our blessings for granted. I am wont to do so more often than not – this is what the exercise of daily, intentional thankfulness has taught me for the last 29 days. But the opportunity to be a student at Notre Dame was my exception – it is something that I never took for granted. I can say with near certainty that there was not a single day that passed that I didn’t, at least fleetingly, feel a sense of overwhelming gratefulness to be there.
In high school, I genuinely believed that people like me just didn’t go to college in places like that. Even when I received my acceptance letter, it was a bittersweet moment, not a triumphant one – because I knew it was a pipe dream. Through a chain of events that was as prosaic as it was miraculous (the story involves an oversized check from no one other than the United Dairymen of Idaho), what appeared impossible became reality, and because of it I will never be the same.
There is a quiet spot on campus between the glassy lake and the grotto, where I used to sit. For four years, I went there literally every single day – come sun, rain, snow, and bitter-to-the-bones midwestern cold. From my spot, you couldn’t feel the warmth of the candles, but you could see their glow, and that gave me hope. The Golden Dome loomed above, and that made me feel safe. Regardless of the circumstance, I’d sit there and tell myself – “You are here. This is real. Anything is possible.”
It is a spot where I’ve poured my tears and shook with racking sobs. It is a spot where I saw an elusive God that I still don’t understand. It is a spot where I brought my dreams and allowed them to grow force in my heart. It is a spot where I came with friends and built lasting bonds over lukewarm Starbucks and whispered secrets. It is a spot where I learned who I was and who I wanted to be, and it is a spot where I habitually came to be thankful.
I’m thankful for that time. I’m thankful for my college education. I’m thankful for some damn good (and, lets face it, some damn bad) college football games. I’m thankful for the community and family that I found. I’m thankful for how my faith journey was encouraged, enriched, and challenged in such a way that abstract beliefs and stirrings of the soul were harnessed and directed towards a career and a life based in service to others. I’m thankful for learning how to believe in my dreams, for the tenacity to fight for them, and for the grace to sometimes, win.
I’m thankful for alma mater, Notre Dame.
What are you thankful for?
(See all posts on giving thanks here.)