Hello all! My name is Cindy Cheshire and I am the new Campus Minister and Director at the Newman Center here in Keene. I feel so strongly that God has led me to this specific community and I am SO excited to see how He is going to move among the young adults of Keene this year! If you want to find out more about me, be sure to check out the “Staff” tab at the top of this (newly redesigned!) blog, or just stop in at my (also newly redesigned!) office. I’m around pretty consistently and always up for a chat and maybe even a walk and a cup of coffee or tea compliments of the Newman Center!
Yesterday was the Student Activities Fair at Keene State College, and it was really my first chance to get out and about on campus talking to students and spreading the word about getting closer to God through the Newman Center. I will admit, it was more than a little daunting. I’ve never been much for just walking up to people and starting a conversation, and I’ve always suffered from that unique shyness that only crops up on the first day of school (and trust me, after moving around so much in my life, I’m well acquainted with the “first day of school” feeling). But getting out on campus and meeting students is my job, so at 11am yesterday I found myself strolling across the quad with a giant cross balanced on my shoulders Jesus-on-His-way-to-the-crucifixion-style. As I approached the area where students and other campus leaders were setting up for the fair, I felt that familiar lump rise in my throat. Sorority girls and frat house boys stopped setting up their rush posters to stare at me and my giant cross and I felt like a five year old again. I didn’t know a soul on that quad, and I was obviously nothing like the other participants with their beer coozies and flyers about weekend parties. “I’m serving You” was the silent prayer I formed in my mind as I took a breath and started walking toward our table. And just like the first day of Kindergarten, I focused on my work, I tripped over myself a few times with students who were completely uninterested in the kind of extra curricular activity I was offering, and slowly–eventually–I started to make some connections. I left the fair a few hours later with a sunburn, several names and emails of students who seemed generally interested, a few offers from other groups and departments who wanted to do joint events, and a small group of students wanting to hang out for a few minutes in our new Newman Center common room, one of them carrying the giant cross across campus this time.
Jesus spoke more than once about the faith of children and how that kind of faith is pivotal to enter the Kingdom of God. (Incidentally, here is a great blog post about the “faith like a child” idea.) Perhaps it’s a good thing that I felt like a shy Kindergartener yesterday; it meant that the faith required to minister to the students at the fair was truly the faith of a child. I didn’t feel like a mighty Campus Minister serving God and saving souls like some sort of Biblical superhero, I felt small. I felt awkward. I even felt embarrassed at some points (I mean, the Science Teachers’ Association table was getting more hits than me!). But instead of doing the adult thing and calling it a day to save myself from further disgrace, I pushed on like a one-year-old learning to walk. I had faith that God would make something big out of my smallness. And, if that list of emails is any indication, it worked to great success.
I’m looking forward to all the ways that God makes something big out of all of us at the Newman Center this year. See you there!