Missing Smith and Having Tough Faith Conversations

Everything is coming so fast. For the longest time, I thought that I could be so excited to bid my time at Smith adieu, but now that it is actually happening, I’m a bit frightened. Not so much afraid of the future, but rather that the time that I have been wishing away slightly over the last 18 months is actually ending. I always knew that college would come to an end, but I didn’t think I would have feelings about it. I am not the type that will come back to Smith for my 10, 20, 30 year reunions, that’s just not my style; I probably won’t be involved with a Smith club or raise money for my class. Not because I’m not grateful for everything that my Smith education has gotten me thus far, but because Smith was a stopping ground for me – a stepping stone I could perch on on my way to seminary.

But never did I imagine that I would actually begin to miss the place. Over the last 4 years, I have run along the mill river on both of the cross country paths. Yesterday, I was walking on the path by Paradise Pond on the first of what would prove to be a week’s worth of spring days, and it hit me that the number of times I could walk along this path was slowly ticking down. I knew that my time at Smith would eventually come to an end, and for more than a year, my sights were focused on what I would do after my time at Smith, not so much on what I was doing at the current time. Now that I have plans for the next three years, it gives me ample time to think about the time I have left at Smith.

Now that I know what is going on with my life, I can sit back and think about all that I have done at Smith, and specifically, all the things that I will most certainly miss when I graduate in a few weeks. A friend of mine recommended that I make a list of the things that I really want to do before I graduate, and I think that is probably the best thing I could do.

  1. Run the Mill River path at least once more, but hopefully at least 4 times over senior week
  2. Ride the Bike path to Amherst once – this will probably only happen once, as who knows when I will be able to ride, and also who knows when my bike will go home?
  3. Ride route 66 once more
  4. Watch the sun set over paradise pond on the dock at the boathouse
  5. Take photos of campus, being as creative as possible, trying to capture as many aspects of the campus as possible
  6. Go on at least one more sunrise and sunset run each

**Is it sad that many of the things I’m going to miss have to do with exercising? I feel like much of the bonds that I have formed physically with Smith have to do with being outside and active? Or rather am I just more connected to the physical aspects of Smith than say, the people?

Hmm…interesting thought. As with everything in life, there are parts of my Smith experience that I will miss, and then also parts that I won’t miss as well. The parts that I will miss most are the people here that I consider a part of my family. You all know who you are! But I think something I will miss more at times than anything are the professors who have helped me to get to where I am today, and more importantly, where I will be going “tomorrow.” In high school, I had teachers who cared about my academic well-being, but beyond that, they were limited in their ability to care about my life goals and dreams. But here at Smith and also at Amherst (and I would imagine the same would be true at other schools like Smith…), a few of my professors took interest in me beyond simply the classes I was taking. They were willing to do everything they could to help me make my dreams come true.

What am I going to miss most about Smith? I think it is less what I am going to miss and more what I wish I could have accomplished during my time here. I have no regrets academically, nothing that I wanted to do in terms of classes, but I wish that I could have spent more time developing relationships with people of different faiths and different belief systems. I was discussing with a friend yesterday how at times religious relationships can be tense on campus. It isn’t often between the various religious groups that tension occurs, but rather between the religious and “non-religious.” As someone who is a part of a faith system, or rather as a person who ascribes to a particular faith, I can understand how one side of fence feels, but I think it is important to have valid discussions coming from both sides not just one side (with the other side not listening, or not being given the opportunity to listen and be heard…).If I had more time at Smith, I would try to start those discussions, or I would at least find a place for interfaith discussions to happen. I have my beliefs, and the faith that I hold near and dear to my heart, and those will never falter or be given up, but I think it is important for everyone’s faith voice to be heard. Just because people may not agree with me, or they may have differing opinions, doesn’t mean that their voice isn’t important to me, or others. But that fact is often ignored, because to face a different opinion or belief is frightening, or threatening to their own beliefs.

But why is this important, anyway? I have discussed in past blog posts how important it is to learn from the faith of others. But people find other differing opinions frightening, or even threatening to their beliefs. The most common explanation I have heard is, “well, I don’t want to hear what they have to believe because it is a threat to my beliefs.” But isn’t the fact that it is a threat a good thing in some way? I don’t think threats are a bad thing, because by facing the faith of others, it helps us to ask questions and seek for answers within our own faith. I am not faultless in this. At times, I feel so uncomfortable when I am confronted with the faiths of others; It can make a person doubt. But at the same time, it gets me to ask questions and pray harder for the answers to my questions, in the process, strengthening my faith in what I believe. It isn’t a bad thing, despite the fact that it may seem as much.

So what am I going to miss most about Smith? I am going to miss the conversations that are had here, the relationships that are built. I know in the back of my mind that similar discussions will happen at PTS, because everyone that is studying there is an adult and will therefore engage in adult conversations, but Smith is familiar and predictable. Hmmm, I can’t wait to see what types of conversations will happen there. I think it will be, without a doubt, an enlightening experience. I can’t wait to see how my faith will change, develop and grow in those conversations!

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