A Reunion

All right, you’ll have to bear with me for this one a little bit, because I am about to get a little sentimental.

Jordan and I as high school seniors after the musical, "Once Upon a Mattress."

Yesterday evening I drove just over an hour to the Greenville area to see one of my best friends from high school in her senior recital, and it was probably one of the most distinctly “senior” experiences that I have had so far.  Jordan was, as we always say, my “right ear” during high school – we started the first day of freshman year sitting next to each other in the alto section of last period chorus, and we have been friends ever since.  We both auditioned and got into show choir the next year, we did the musicals every year, auditioned for All-State Choir together. . . you get the idea.  Even when we went away to different colleges, we both ended up with one of our majors with music (though she turned into soprano to the surprise of both of us!).

I have gotten to see her a couple of times these past four years, visiting Furman once for a concert and once for their production of “Sweeney Todd”, and we even had a chance encounter in Madrid (yes, in Spain) in the middle of a crosswalk. . . but that is an interesting story for another time.  The point is that we kept up with each other, even if not consistently, and we both continued to surrounded ourselves with music and theatre.

A year and a half ago we ran into each other in Madrid. . . providence.

Finally, in the past month, she managed to find Due West to see my senior recital, and I returned the favor to see her last night.  I think both of us were a little shocked at how much we had changed since the last time we heard our little high school selves sing – I know that I was, and this made me think about how much I have changed.  It’s amazing how much four years, especially in the important years of early adulthood, can affect someone.  I thoroughly enjoyed hearing her sing, seeing her and her family again, and reminiscing on how much we have matured.  It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since we met eight years ago, or even since we last sang together.  I also began to realize more fully that I don’t know where we’ll both be even in two years, just as with my classmates at Erskine.

There is so much uncertain about the end of college, even if you know where you are headed next, as I do.  There are so many friends and classmates who will be dispersing, moving on to other colleges, getting jobs, moving all over the place. . . and we will never all be here again, in tiny, quirky little Erskine, taking classes and living together.  It’s funny what makes the strongest impression in periods of transition, because these are often not what you expect them to be.  However, I have confidence that since Jordan and I have stayed friends through these four years, we can maintain our friendship for the next four, no matter where we go, and I think that I will be able to manage this with friends at Erskine as well.

Henna Lessons

I am currently typing one-handed, because I have just returned from getting a henna tattoo.  Erskine’s BCM (Baptist Collegiate Ministries) sponsored an afternoon of henna as a fundraiser (only $5 for a hand- or foot-design) last Friday, but since Choraleers were singing in Charleston I was not able to support them.  Luckily, the event was such a success that they sold gift certificates for a henna design later, so I got mine done this morning.

My henna design drying.

Henna has been used in recent years in missions, in countries that use this traditional form of body art.  Designs are created to teach Bible stories, with each element of the henna symbolizing an element of the story.  I love this concept, because it is such a creative way to spread the gospel through a familiar element of the host culture of the missionaries.  I should also mention, for those who don’t know about henna tattoos, that they are created from a paste made of crushed henna leaves; the paste is applied in a design that, when left to dry, dyes your skin for a few of weeks – not permanently.  I won’t type too much more since this one-handed typing is very inhibiting on the keyboard (I got my left hand done and it is still drying), but you can see a picture of my henna at left, which tells the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

Update: After a couple of hours, my henna dried and started flaking off, which was a sign to scrape/wash the rest off.  I am very pleased with the final product!  I have been showing off my design all day and explaining the story in its pictures. . .  such a beautiful art.

The final product!

“The Mirror”: A Reflection

Last year I wrote that I never thought I would be writing for a school publication, but this year I took a step farther and found myself as the editor for the Arts & Culture section of our school newspaper, The Mirror.  Although it can be a challenge to find students who are willing and, more importantly, have time to write articles for my section, I have really enjoyed the challenge.

Being involved in the performing arts at Erskine, it was easy for me to keep up with what was going on, though I had to work harder to keep up with the visual arts.  However, as I found out, it can be a challenge to find an interesting angle for each article – sometimes it is all right just to write about what happened, but as all the staff found out this year, students are much more interested in reading and writing articles that give it a unique perspective.  For example, this Monday afternoon was the reception for the senior art show.  Instead of just writing about the event, though, my friend Rebecca wrote only a little bit of a “traditional” article, because she interviewed the two senior art majors (with a combination of serious and lighthearted questions, which also makes for a good story).  This sort of article is much more popular, because students would rather hear the opinions and stories of other students than just a recap of what happened.

I have to admit that all this is partially to advertise the newspaper, because I think more people should read it – we’ve been improving the newspaper so much this year, and I think it appeals to a much wider audience.  Whatever your interest is, you’ll find lots of student-written, -edited, and –published articles at: http://www.erskinemirror.com/, or check out our Facebook page:  http://www.facebook.com/erskinemirror (Seriously, check it out, especially the Arts & Culture section!)  But I also want to point out that it just goes to show that you never know what you’ll get into in college, especially at a small one like Erskine.  I’m not sure that I will be active later in any sort of journalism, but it certainly does not hurt to have this experience.  And, if nothing else, I enjoyed doing something different, from writing articles and editorials to being an editor myself.

Good Conversation with Good Company

Something that college students like to do occasionally (or, for some, quite regularly) is stay up until the wee hours of the morning engaging in great conversations with friends.  Granted, this is not the smartest thing to do when you have class the next morning at 8:00 or 9:00, but on a Friday night, this is a great way to spend your time.

Robinson 2 Lobby - Site of many a late-night conversation.

Last night, after a long day of travel down to and back from Charleston with the Choraleers, who sang at a musical convention, I enjoyed one of these hours-long talks.  It started on the way home with one friend on the bus – as I shared some of my favorite Spanish artists, we began talking about music and ended up doing so for most of the ride back.  When we arrived and I got back to my dorm, I soon took a trip to Java City with a couple of the girls on my hall.  We ended up staying there until about 1:00 am, but when we got back to Robinson the conversation continued in our hall lobby for quite a while.  I won’t say exactly what time it was when we finally went to sleep, but suffice to say that we heard a few birds starting to chirp outside (that’s when you know it is past time to go to bed).

I have been so busy this semester and focused on trying to get all of my homework finished on the weekends that I have not had many opportunities for these conversations.  I have abbreviated versions for perhaps an hour on the occasional afternoon or evening, but I have missed such long, impromptu discussions.  I also really enjoyed last night’s talk because I have not gotten to know the three girls involved as well as I would have liked, partially because they are all sophomores, so we have not had as much time together at Erskine.  I am glad, though, that the community of dorms affords such opportunities for fellowship, or else I would not get to know so many great young women at Erskine.  I am also thankful that with only four weeks left (yep, the countdown is starting), I have a manageable amount of things to do, so I am not so pressed for time that I can’t enjoy such small pleasures of college.

Free Time… in College?

From yesterday afternoon through this morning I had a rare privilege of free time; and not just free time, but copious amounts of it… in college, in April?!

First, my acting class was cancelled yesterday afternoon, so I had the entire afternoon free, which was pretty exciting.  Then, my nursery job at the ARP church in town was cancelled, because in lieu of their usual Wednesday evening service, they were all going to the Kirkin’ of the Tartan service being held at the seminary, and no one came to my Supplemental Instruction session, so my entire evening was free of commitment.  Finally, my conducting class was cancelled this morning, and I decided not to go to convocation this morning, to finish celebrating my 24-hours of nothing to do!

A few of my paintbrushes were glad to be used again.

So, what on earth I did with all my free time?  I am proud to say that I did not spend it all sleeping, or playing on Facebook, or entirely wasting my time.  Instead, I found a happy medium of work and play.

A scene from the 1938 movie "Algiers" that I watched yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon I put in a movie and worked on a project, then various bits of homework until dinner time.  On a whim I decided to go on Skype, and my good friend Alex (who is in veterinary school in Scotland) happened to be on, so I skipped dinner for a good long chat with him.  I then made a light dinner in my room and continued to work on homework, getting a good bit of reading and French studying done.  I even took about an hour and a half to break out some long-unused art supplies and try a little bit of painting, which was only moderately successful, but still enjoyable and relaxing.  I went to bed just before midnight and woke up at 8:00 (yes, that is EIGHT hours of sleep!) to get ready and enjoy a leisurely breakfast in Moffatt of blueberry muffins and an omelet (breakfast is definitely the best meal in the dining hall).  For the rest of this morning I did some reading for my New Testament class, took an impromptu nap, made some tea, and decided to skip convo and write a blog about this unexpected vacation.

And that’s it.  Nothing too crazy, but what a nice surprise it has been.  Soon I’ll head off to lunch and then resume a more demanding schedule, but I feel quite refreshed and ready to go.  Thank God for the little blessings!

Graduation Countdown: One Month

I realized quite suddenly this morning that my undergraduate career ends a month from tomorrow – much sooner than I thought.  In a way, of course, this is very exciting, because it is the motivation for going to college to begin with: walking across the stage after sitting through more speeches than we care to listen to in order to accept a diploma, the symbol of all the hard work, knowledge, stress, relationships, and growth that we have experienced and acquired through our (hopefully) four years.  While there is always the unknown factor, at least I know where I am headed for the next two years, and this is a great source of comfort.

I wrote at the beginning of the year how strange it was to be in my final year, because time has seemed to accelerate through my time at Erskine.  I remember thinking about how much more I had left to do and how distant graduation seemed, so much so that I didn’t “feel” like a senior.  Now, though my four years still seem like they flew by without stopping to be enjoyed, moving into Carnegie and being an awkward freshman seems like it was so long ago.  Everything seems very distinctive, really – the plays, concerts, tests, papers, formals, movies, Moffat meals, meetings, late nights – and I feel like college was maybe not so short.  (Don’t worry, I’m not going to barrage the blog readers with memories and anecdotes. . . at least today.)

My high school graduation - I'm looking forward to a much shorter ceremony at Erskine!

With all of these reflections, I have  what I assume is a range of normal emotions right now, from excitement to wistfulness, but overall I really just feel calm.  It’s not quite resignation, but also not apathy; I’m not sure what to call it.  I guess, overall, I’m just enjoying the feeling of approaching a pleasant end.  When I leave in May I will be a little sad, but I know that I can and will come back to visit, and that I have made the most out of my time.

All this being said, I am looking forward to graduation; yet, I am not wishing my last month away, because I am glad to have a little more time at my soon-to-be alma mater.

Remember the “Good” of this Friday

I woke up this morning to an abnormally chilly day in Charleston (I don’t think it ever reached more than upper 50’s, and it’s April!), and I could not help but think. . . I have a lot of homework to do in the next couple of days.  I did realize that today is the last day of Lent; after forty days of preparation, today Christians somberly recognize the death of our savior almost two thousand years ago, bearing the weight of our sins.  However, as a college student enjoying a long weekend (one of the nice things about a Christian college is not having classes on Good Friday), do we appreciate this day?  Even though many of us go home this weekend to spend the holiday with our families, it is not a particularly long break, and there are still papers to be written, projects to be finished, pages to be read, events to plan for, and many aspects of daily life to complete.

Since normal life goes on, how should we observe and properly honor this important day?  This can be a tough question.  I admit that though I observed the Catholic ritual of no meat/partial-fasting, this is the most that I really thought about the significance of the day until late this afternoon.  Instead, I finished my French homework, did some of my reading, responded to a couple of e-mails, chatted with my sister, complained about having to wear long sleeves in April, and read a couple of news articles.  In short, like most Christians today, I had not taken the time to read the Bible, have a quiet moment of reflection and prayer, or – Heaven forbid! – even gone to church.

Jesus after the passion - taken in a Cathedral that I visited in Barcelona, Spain.

Doing mundane tasks today does not make a bad Christian, but it seems to me that a failure to recognize Good Friday is a failure to appreciate Christ.  To someone who does not understand Christianity, it could seem morbid to term a day “Good” that marks the terrible death of one man for the sake of all sinners – all men.  However, we know that Jesus was the ultimate “Good” because he was the son of God – the source of all goodness – and that his death was the best “Good” that God could possibly have given us, in placing the burden of our sins on Jesus.

So, it is important to take just a moment to think about this greatest of blessings that God gave us before continuing with the rest of the day, inane activities and all.  After praying, or reading the Bible, or however you like to spend time with God, try to take the peace with you through everything else you have to do – I can tell you that it makes all the homework, housework, or whatever you have to do a lot more bearable.

Blessings to everyone this Good Friday!