A to Z: Christendom

Once upon a time, I was dead set on being a professional musician.  A degree in arts administration with a minor in trombone performance awaited me, and I would hear of no other possibility, no matter how hard my parents tried.

Then, the summer of 2010 happened.  My parents dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the same week-long program my two older sisters had previously attended at a little liberal arts college in Virginia.  "It's just a week," they said.  "Think of it as a vacation."  Some vacation!  Classes began and ended with prayer.  We had daily Mass, daily adoration, and an introduction to the depths of the liberal arts and Western civilization.

Midway through that week, I sat in the back of the chapel, looking at the monstrance.  I can't leave this behind, I realized.  I knew, with overwhelming certainty, that this place was where I belonged.  The next few days were one long existential crisis, as I fought with myself to put aside my music, my habits and plans, and begin to walk this unknown path.  When my dad came to pick me up, I told him "I hope you like the drive out here, because this is where I'm going to school."

View from the chapel, courtesy of Amy Marter
Five years later, I could give you a litany of the reasons I'm glad I spent four years of my life at Christendom College.  Academics, friends, professors, faith formation, Legion of Mary, Rome...but I don't plan to write a novel-length post today.  I was sad to graduate, and it was difficult to transition to life without my Christendom family.

Yet when I returned to Christendom this past weekend for a too-short visit, I knelt in the chapel again and looked up at the stained glass window of the Sacred Heart.  I knew, with as much certainty as I had felt years earlier, that once again I am where I am meant to be.  My four years at Christendom will always be part of who I am; those memories and experiences are woven into the core of my identity.  But this path I walk now, this work that I do and this independence I enjoy, is where I belong.  So I sent up a prayer of gratitude for those four years, and for the reassuring peace that Christ gave me in that moment.  The chance to say farewell without sorrow is a rare gift.

Spring in the Shenandoah Valley
And then, of course, I continued having a jolly time with my friends at ye olde Alma Mater.  When I flew in Thursday night, a girlfriend and I stayed up late at her house to chat over homemade margaritas.  Friday was a blessed chance to catch up with professors - I never expected to end up with so many amazing, wise men and women as friends and mentors.  In the evening, nine ladies joined me for an impromptu evening of Middle Eastern food (newsflash: falafel mix is a wonderful thing), storytelling, singing, and a dash of poetry.

Sr. Joseph Andrew, one of the foundresses of the order I work for, just happened to be on campus for a vocations visit at the same time.
Saturday brought time for long walks and talks, although I didn't get to spend nearly as much time with each of my friends as I would have liked.  I did get a delightful surprise - the college orchestra I helped start last year has solidified and is moving forward remarkably well.  They played one of their better repertoire pieces so that they could show off for me.

Apologies for a slightly blurry camera.  Two trumpets, flute, clarinet, violin, an oboe at this practice, playing the fourth movement of Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks.
The college put on Les Miserables as the spring play, and for an entirely student-run production, it was fantastically well-done.

I'm actually rather taller than my "little brother" here who played Javert, but the hat got in the way. :)  He did an amazing job!   Photo courtesy of Amy Marter.
After Sunday Mass, brunch, and a round of farewells, I headed up to Manasses to hang out with a handful of dear alumnae friends.  The adventure which followed while we were driving to the airport is a saga for another day!  Suffice to say I made it home safely, and my priority at the moment is to catch up on all the lost sleep.

With all the gorgeous women!  Em, Gloria, Heather, and Christine were and are my mentors, roommates, and friends, with whom I have shared so many memories.


Post a Comment