May 23, 2023
by Molly Mattingly
Creighton University's Campus Ministry 
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
Lectionary: 298  

Acts 20:17-27
Psalm 68:10-11, 20-21
John 17:1-11a

Celebrating Easter

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

What If I Have Trouble Getting Better?

“Yes. These are my people.” Have you ever said that to yourself in the midst of a dinner or activity with friends or family? At the end of a retreat or a trip? At the end of a program of study?

Many of us, teachers and students and others, have just experienced the end of the academic year. Whether it included a graduation or not, one of my mentors called the end of an academic year a “fraction rite.” Students have found “their people” – friends, teachers, and mentors who have somehow helped them to be more themselves than they were before. They have shaped each other and revealed to each other more of the depth of who they are. They have shared the ups and downs of life and grown together, for a time. There is a deep sense of being known, of belonging. In a very real sense, these are the people we have been given (and been given to). They are the only ones who will know us as we were in that leg of the journey, simply because they were the ones who walked it with us. There’s no re-do; we always share that chapter with those people in a special way. “You had to be there, I guess.”

This is always a bittersweet time of year for my colleagues and me in Campus Ministry. I am always grateful for the seniors who have spend four years of their lives retreating, singing, praying, leading, and sharing faith with each other and with me. I find myself particularly grateful for this year’s seniors (2023) who shared such a roller-coaster journey. This undergraduate class were freshmen in August 2019. They are inspiringly resilient, from the fire alarm at their Welcome Week Mass (what a sign, right?) to the last-minute relocation of their Baccalaureate Mass due to severe weather forecasts. They weathered every stage of the pandemic on campus over the last four years, forged community under abnormal and constantly changing circumstances, and built it all back up again. They are Master Pivoters. “Ah, yes. These are my people.” I could see something like that thought on many of their faces as they looked at each other in the week leading up to graduation.

And then, it seems, just as we find “our people” we have to say goodbye to them. The bread is broken. People are called in different directions – to new programs, new jobs, new vocations, new cities, new stages of life. It’s difficult; there’s no way around that. “Our people,” who have shared daily life, work, growth, and faith, who have shown us who we are in a unique way, are not present in the same way anymore. Now it takes a different effort and intention.

Jesus, and later Paul, prepared the disciples for something like this fractioning in today’s readings. To paraphrase, Jesus says to his dearest friends, “I have been with you in this way. I have told you everything and you’ve got this. I will not be with you in the same way, soon, but our relationship and what we have shared does not end. You know me. Eternal life is relationship with me.”

Then Jesus commends his friends to the world, which seems to give him hope and confidence, and he prays for them. I resonate with that as I think about each year’s graduates. The goodbyes are always bitter, but knowing such wonderful, motivated, intelligent, resilient, faith-filled people are going into the world to do good in all the ways they can in so many fields? That is very sweet, and it gives me hope for the world.

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