It’s Fall. I love Fall. The sunlight gets prettier, the leaves get brighter, the air get crispy and everyone seems to settle in a happy little nesting period before winter arrives. I. LOVE. FALL.
I also love Fall because–and I’ll freely admit to the dorkiness of this–it means Back to School. Yup, growing up I was one of Those Kids. The kids who loved the first day of school and got all up in a tizzy on a trip to the store for school supplies. I guess I should have known all along that I was meant to work with students. Nowadays, my preparations for Back to School are a little different–program has to be planned, trips arranged, the Common Room scrubbed, and arriving students prayed for. This year, however, my Back to School preparations included something different: this year I made rosaries to give away, and I prayed while I did it.
Call me a latter day mystic, but there’s something meditative about putting on the Gregorian Chant Pandora station, lighting a candle, and stringing 43 beads onto a cord. Before I start making rosaries each time, I pray that the Holy Spirit would put on my heart and mind those things and those students that need to be lifted up in prayer, and as my mind wanders from one thing to the next, I send it up to Our Lord.
Now please don’t think I’m some sort of rosary craftinista here; I’m really not. I’ve only made a few in my lifetime and it shows. I fumble with the knots, I drop beads, and I’ve been known to burn a few cords when simply trying to melt the end to keep it from fraying. A few days ago, there was one rosary that proved to be a lesson in and of itself. It was different shades of blue and green, and for some reason I’d decided at the beginning of the project not to separate out the beads I’d be using. As I dug through my big coffee mug of tiny rosary beads looking for this precise shade of green or that exact kind of blue, I began thinking about the similarities between beads and people.
You see, the beads weren’t as easy to find as one might think; there were many of them in all different shades, some of them very similar. If two beads sat close enough together in the right light, their colors would merge together and make finding an exact shade even more difficult. Sometimes it seemed as if the beads were purposefully hiding, as if they didn’t want to be found. Each correctly chosen bead was a treasure.
And that’s how I feel about the community of Catholic college students here in Keene.
There are many of them from all different walks of life. When they’re with their friends, they take on a little of the color of that group, and sometimes that makes them difficult to find. But when they are taken and held up to the light to see their true color, then grouped together with others like them, the effect is stunning.
I’ve witnessed this especially over the last two Sundays during our new 7:00 pm Sunday Night Mass at St. Bernard’s. Have you been? Do you feel the energy swirling around that sanctuary? It’s tangible! And afterwards when we gather together in the Common Room for pizza or apple cider donuts or a game of pool or just chatting or whatever, that’s beautiful and holy too. That gathering of individuals– of all different colors of beads, if you will–is stunning because just as each found bead from my big coffee mug was a treasure, so too is each student and young adult who has the courage be be found in our community. Your presence, your lives, your time away from homework and friends and the security of your dorm room is so treasured. You are truly, truly welcome in this place and we are so glad to have you.
And if you want a rosary sometime to remind you of that, just let me know.