“So… what are your plans after graduation?”
As a senior here at Northwestern, this is a question I have to answer on a nearly daily basis. I don’t mind. However, things are a bit complicated by the fact that I will actually be returning for one final semester to finish up my academics. And also by the fact that I don’t really have much of a ‘plan’ for what comes after college.
But that’s okay.
I will find out this week if I’ve been accepted for an internship at a community garden in North Carolina that would offer a great first step towards applying for Duke Divinity School. So that’s exciting! I’ve also been spending a lot of my free time lately looking at jobs online. After all, this is such an incredible time! I will soon be taking my first few wobbly steps away from my home for the past four years out into the “real world.” Of course, we must also take Bilbo Baggins’ (The Hobbit) words to heart:
“It’s a dangerous business, [Lincoln], going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
(I’ve really taken J.R.R. Tolkein quotes to heart after studying for a semester in New Zealand.)
Thinking about the future has occupied my mind quite a bit lately, and that is all well and good. It’s an adventure. However, I’ve been very careful to not let my forward thinking distract me from the joy of finishing out my college career.
At the table that the guys on my wing sit at every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we have a saying – “Be here now.” Whenever a guy is sitting at the table using his phone rather than joining in on the conversation, someone will remark, “Be here now.” It is a reminder to be here, to be present with the community at hand. As my time remaining here in Orange City dwindles, I have kept this saying close to my heart.
At college, it is easy to fall into a future-oriented, school-focused mindset. This is not a bad thing by any means. However, I have been careful to balance my academic growth with my spiritual, emotional, and communal growth. Experiences in the classroom are important and will teach life-long lessons, but one of the most beautiful aspects of attending a small liberal arts school is the dorm life that happens outside of the classroom. Ten years down the road, I might not remember the specific details of ATP (energy enzyme) synthesis inside of the cell… but I will remember the night I ran outside in my shorts with thirty other guys to dive headfirst into a snowdrift (tonight…).
It is my opinion that there are some things about calling, faith, and life that can only be learned through experience and ‘being present.’ When we isolate ourselves from others, we miss important opportunities that inform our understanding of the world. God speaks to me through my religion professors, but also through the men of my dorm who talk with me in my room until the early hours of the morning.
It is in our moments of vulnerability and trust that God occasionally reveals His face. Rather than stress about what the future holds, I choose to view every person I meet, every conversation I hold, and every experience I have as an opportunity to grow and learn. To truly embrace these incredible moments, I choose to ‘be present.’ Every person is made in the image of God, and thus deserves your time of day.
Be here now!