A Journey Part 1

I was driving into work the other day and as I passed one of the cemeteries on Six Mile, I realized what day it was and was suddenly transported to Lent 2003. I then started a journey of Lents in my head that took my mind from driving.  It was one of those time warps that when I snapped out of it, I was a mile further than I remembered driving. (Hopefully, but not hopefully, one or two of you know what I mean.)

Since that day, I’ve been thinking and contemplating a lot on my life, and in particular a few Lenten seasons that had a large impact on my life, and thought I’d share them with you. (Perhaps you’ll find something inspirational or maybe give you some insight into how I ended up being the crazy but loving person I am today.)

Now, Lent has always been a HUGE part of my faith and life (tho perhaps off and on). I’ve always looked at it as a time to better myself and start anew. I only gave up things like chocolate, candy and pop when I was little. It wasn’t until about Jr. High when I first started to experience Lent as a time to work on myself.

I’m going to start this little series of Lenten reflections with a story from my history pages that has become a defining moment in my life. It just so happens this story occurred exactly 11 years ago this week and is what triggered all these memories.

It was Lent of 2003 and I was rounding out my first year of college. I was in the Honors program, pulling a 3.8, becoming a budding student leader, and having a blast with my life. Then one morning in late March, I was traveling between classes when my cell rang. It was my mother. She had called to let me know that, early that morning, one of my closest friends had been killed in a car accident.

Her name was Jessica, and I had known her for years. We grew up together in the same small church community and participated in everything together from religion classes to youth group to mission trips. We went through the good the bad, the rocky relationships, the teen years, and everything in between. I also knew her mother extremely well, because she was one of the choir members who got me involved with the church music team and a few other community projects. Needless to say I was very close to the family.

When I was told she had died, the world stopped spinning. I had always heard of that happening to people when they hear bad news, but until then I had never experienced it. I remember leaning against the wall and not really registering what she had told me. At some point in time, I straightened up and headed to my car to sit and have a cry. I eventually started my car and headed home. My mom met me at the door and we talked and she consoled me until I had to leave for my church later that evening.

I was in a church production of Godspell that year as a fundraiser for our Vacation Bible School.  My friend’s mother was also in the production but I didn’t expect to see her at the rehearsal. When I arrived at my church for rehearsal, the whole cast and crew had been informed and there were a few tears shed and comforting hugs being passed among us. However, just as we were about to began practice, her mother came into the church, looking tired and heart stricken but as she came in, she told us that she just wanted to sit and watch the rehearsal; that just being surrounded by the church community cast and crew gave her strength and comfort. She was greeted and hugged by everyone, but when she reached me, we hugged and cried for a good while. (Let’s just say, I now know why there are boxes of tissues in the organ seat at my church.)  From that moment on, the days seemed to drag on. The viewing may have been the hardest part. I felt like a child. I remember holding tight to the hands, of one of our former youth group leaders, as she went with me to view the body. I’ll never forget the stomach dropping and empty feeling when I saw my friend in the casket, confirming that she had passed. I dread the day I have to experience it again. The choir sang throughout the viewing/vigil service but I was never able to make it through an entire song. The funeral was the next day. I played my violin for her service with the choir for the mass, but I’ve never had work so hard to play my violin as I had that day. It was my one gift that I could give her. Beautiful music to say goodbye.

A few days later after the funeral, I arrived early for our Godspell rehearsal and just sat and thought. It had been a long few days that I tried to fill by being as busy as possible. Honestly, it was the only time in my college career when I had all of my assignments done weeks/months before they were due. I just wanted to be busy.  I had been trying not to think a lot since hearing of the news of my friend’s passing but as I sat down in the pew, I knew that it was time for me to stop being so busy. As I sat there, I could hear her laugh and her love of live in the memories that I relived. The sense of humanity and mortality hit me hard. It was then, when I acknowledged that I was about to embark on a journey that I knew was inevitable, but I had dreaded for years. But it was one that I knew would made her proud of me, once it had been completed.

This is just my first reflection I thought I’d share with you. I promise that when I’m finished you’ll probably have learned more about me than you may have wanted to know. But it’s something I think I’ve been needing to share for a  long time, and it seems that right now is when I’m suppose to share it. So I hope you enjoy coming on this journey with me over the next few days and weeks. 🙂

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!

Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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