Yesterday is when I moved into my new dorm room at Saint John’s University for my sophomore year, but today was the official move-in day. As such today included the zoo of a campus while probably 90% of students made their way onto campus for this new term. During the opening welcome mass in the Abbey Church this evening there were two things the presider said that later that very day (today if you somehow lost track) have seemed to resonate with me, both within just an hour or so of hearing them. Let me share these with you now as I embark on this new academic year.
The first quote was a quote itself. That is, the presider quoted it… …From no less than Steve Jobs. This in itself seemed a little surprising. Maybe because of the place in which the quote was spoken (even though it was also, in reality, spoken at a university), maybe just because I didn’t think that within a week of his resignation as Apple CEO I’d find myself hearing his words from Stanford’s 2005 commencement spoken anywhere. Would this have happened had Steve Jobs not resigned? The heart of the quote: “Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.” On move-in day a year ago I found out that my orientation leader was about to embark on our institution’s Salzburg study abroad. Though not in total seriousness, my new roommate mentioned interest in that same study abroad. Somehow it just felt to me like not just whose orientation group I was a part of, but also as mostly just family (and close friends) would know, the deep connections I myself have rooted in Austria aligned with who I’m now living with in a similar way to how Steve Jobs’ message suggests.
The second quote was said right at the end of Mass. It was something like “And now comes the time I call the separation of sheep.” The time when parents are expected to hug their college students good-bye and head back home. What resonated here was what happened to me in the hour just afterwards. Once I said good-bye to my dad I almost immediately went to eat dinner at the dining hall on campus (we Johnnies and Bennies know it simply as the Reef). By what was really just coincidence, I ended up eating with an unusually large concentration of Third Mary residents from last year. These fellow johnnies were the heart of what I would call my “second family”, the group of students here at SJU that I grew closest to in some ways. This year though I’m living in a totally different part of campus from them (which made them more than a little jealous…) my new floormates will not replace the ones I had last year, just be added to the bunch. In essence I went from saying my (temporary and only half given todays technology) farewell to one family and almost immediately reconnected with another. What few tears of sadness I may have unexpectedly shed just outside the Abbey Church were almost immediately turned to tears of joy within the Reef just minutes later. Ultimately part of being in college is the awareness that on top of starting to spread your wings as an individual separate of your biological family you are embraced by a family formed with the people you live with in the residential halls.
I’m starting the second fourth of my college career here at Saint John’s right now, and these are two quotes from this first day that are worth reflecting on as I lay down some new roots ahead of classes starting this Wednesday.