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Softening, reconciling, forgiving

Gabriel Griggs | Wednesday, September 4, 2013

It is a funny phenomenon of life that certain paths that seem obvious in hindsight were not so obvious at the time. Attending Notre Dame, for example, is something that seems so clearly to be the right decision now, but that was not entirely obvious when I was a senior in high school. It was important for me to be around my family, so my choices were set: Notre Dame, Purdue, Wabash and University of Chicago. I’d essentially drawn a three-hour radius around South Bend and limited my options from there.  

The first hint came during the middle of senior year when I was waitlisted at Chicago, a school I had loved since I was a sophomore. But even after being waitlisted, things were not clear. I still felt drawn to  Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., a small, all-male school whose mission was to educate its men in the liberal arts tradition. The mission of the college and a generous financial aid package made Wabash one of my top choices. Notre Dame was always there, though, and my decision was sealed on a fateful day.

The day began with a funeral for the mother of one of my childhood friends. He had been a good friend through grade school, and though we had gone our separate ways in high school, I have many fond memories of him and his mother.

 The funeral was on the same day as the Blue-Gold game, and I had recently been awarded a scholarship by the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley. The recipients of this scholarship and their families received field seats for the Blue-Gold game and were called on to the field at halftime. This was, to say the least, a pretty neat experience. I arrived home after the game and had not even left the car when my sister ran out with a letter from Notre Dame.  It was the financial aid package, and it was a tremendous blessing. I was set on ND and made my decision that day.

This fateful day was full of emotional highs and lows and was a whirlwind of activity. Even going into the game, there was doubt. But, sure enough, certainty and clarity came – it just took a little patience. It seems so obvious now that this path would present itself so clearly, but at the time, I was in a great state of anxiety. It is another unusual phenomenon of life that great joy is often accompanied by great sorrow and that great clarity is often accompanied by great confusion.  

I share this story because of the obvious discernment involved in being a senior again. There is a great sense of comfort in seeing God’s presence in the highs and the lows of our lives, and I imagine we can all relate to this experience in some way or another.

I also share this story in relation to a lesson I’ve learned over the past year: frequent prayer is important. Christ is always there, right in front of us, and often moving imperceptibly. Sometimes his message culminates in momentous occasions – but more often than not, it culminates in little things. Prayer is the key to understanding the everyday occurrences in our lives, whether they are momentous or mundane.

As Blessed John Paul II reminded us in a 1993 homily stressing the importance of priestly devotion to prayer, the “Gospel shows Jesus in prayer at every important moment of his mission.” Through prayer, we might learn to be grateful for our many blessings and we might also be reminded of Christ’s overwhelming love for us. And going forward, we might learn in what ways we are called to share – and multiply – our talents so as to lead holier lives.

Gabriel is a senior in the program of liberal studies. He can be contacted at ggriggs@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.