I took a redeye flight into Boston yesterday and started my second semester of divinity school today.
In December and January, I enjoyed five weeks in Mexico with Alatriste family and nine days in Idaho with Carson family, and that time was precious. It’s always hard saying goodbye. When my sis and her boyfriend dropped me off at the airport, I felt that familiar sad, nostalgic feeling I get when leaving home.
Then something serendipitous happened: My friend, HDS colleague, and fellow Mormon, Emily, happened to be on the same flight as me. We didn’t plan it, but there we were, flying out of Salt Lake City and back to Boston together. Talking with Emily, I didn’t feel homesick. But when she and I parted ways after arriving back in town, I headed to my empty apartment (Waldir’s still in Mexico) and felt lonely. I passed the time running errands, unpacking, and then watching movies (to make the most of my last free day, of course 😉 ).
At midnight, here I was back in Boston, away from mountains and away from family, in bed, listening to cars drive by. Rather than quickly fall asleep (that would have been nice, but I’m a perpetual insomniac), I had a happy thought: “I’m going back to school tomorrow!” Then I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited to realize, “Tomorrow, I’m going to be back at HDS!” How I love HDS!
Today as I walked the halls of Andover and ran into friends all over the place, my soul filled up with gratitude. I felt so much LOVE for these people at HDS, all my friends here. Walking the halls again and seeing all these people I love, giving them big hugs, seeing their smiles, seeing everyone relaxed again after our break–it makes me inexpressibly happy!
When I was in the process of applying to HDS, one of my mentors at BYU mentioned that one of the best things about HDS would be the chance to have classmates of such a high caliber. I hadn’t really thought of that before–I’d been interested in the program and the professors at HDS and hadn’t thought too much about what my peers would be like. Now that I’m here, I realize my peers/colleagues are the best part of my education.
Today in the library as I worked on writing a talk (I’m speaking in church this Sunday; wanna come? 9 a.m. @ 65 Binney St, Cambridge, MA 02142 on the 2nd floor), a friend came up to me just to say hi. I got up from where I was working and gave him a big hug. It was such a simple thing but it meant a lot to me. We aren’t even that close (we just saw each other in the library regularly last semester and chatted briefly once in a while), yet I consider him a friend. And the fact that he interrupted my work to say hi–the fact that he was comfortable doing so–meant a lot to me.
These are my kind of people. I’m surrounded by people who want to help and love and understand each other. They want interfaith and intercultural dialogues without judgment, without fear, without anger. They want to give peace and light and compassion.
I can’t explain their caliber; it’s something you’ve got to feel. For me, it’s not about their resume, their grades, or what they’re going to do with their degree (although it’s all impressive). It’s more about the kind of person they are underneath all of that.
Working and learning with these people means everything to me right now. I can’t imagine being anywhere else.