Don’t Say Goodbye . . . Say Thank You

Another semester is almost over and the familiar routine begins. The furious rush to finish all papers, projects, and assignments that you knew about from week one. Then, that oft-repeated vow: that you will never wait so late start . . . again. The perfunctory filling out of class evaluations that you know you should spend more time on, but you don’t, and the lightning-fast goodbyes that we give to teachers and students alike as we dash toward the parking lot.

It is the last part of the routine that I take issue with. We say goodbye too easily. We often talk about “terminating” with clients and how much care is needed because of the emotional bonds that have been created. Yet what about the bonds created with that person who sat beside you for countless morning and evening hours? Saying goodbye to them should not be so easy. Take the time to thank them for their presence, their camaraderie, for their commiseration with you about the long nights, for their listening ear about the woes of your internship. And, of course, thank them for all the times that they agreed with you that your paper did deserve a better grade. Don’t just say goodbye, say thank you.

If the events in our country over the last few weeks have taught us anything, it is that life is precious and every day is a gift. Just like we can’t take life for granted, we also can’t take the relationships with our classmates for granted either. These are our present peers and our future colleagues, fostering and maintaining relationships with at least a few persons will produce unimagined benefits.

I have heard it said that part of what makes Loyola great is the students, and I would definitely agree. Even the students that I have disagreed with have added something to me. They have helped to clarify my voice, my views, and my beliefs and, in some cases, even my faith. That is a gift and I am thankful for it. And, to you who are reading this blog, I thank you as well for journeying with me and all the other writers as we have shared with you.

To the students I have met, the professors who challenged me to grow, and the friends I have made, I have been blessed by the gift of your presence.

I am not saying goodbye. I am saying thank you.

My Lenten Journey: A Personal Catholic Perspective

On February 28, 2013, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope in 600 years to retire as head of the Catholic Church.  As I reflected on what this meant for me as a Catholic, I realized what a great act of submission this might have been for our Pope Emeritus, and the significance of it occurring during the holy season of Lent.

In my youth, Lent was synonymous with personal deprivation. We were expected to give up something meaningful and to abstain from meat and poultry on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays. Any digression warranted a trip to confession. Although I still abstain from meat on the required days, my Lenten practices have transitioned from deprivation to thanksgiving.

Lent culminates with Easter, which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is significant because it brings meaning to our faith. St. Paul reminds us that if Christ had not been raised, our faith would be useless and we would still be in our sins. Therefore, I strive to make my Lenten journey less about what I give up and more about what I can do. It is about preparation, thanksgiving, and being engaged prayerfully and reflectively to celebrate Jesus Christ’s victory over sin and death.

Options for Lenten practices include community prayer, such as Stations of the Cross, daily Rosary recitations, and daily Mass, or personal prayer and daily devotions.  Another means of service is to contribute to the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl project, a simple yet meaningful way to fulfill St. James’ directive in his New Testament letter:

If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?  So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. (James 2:15-17).

This is my personal perspective, and one that I feel honored to share. It is not intended to represent the views of the Pastoral Counseling program at Loyola University, Maryland, which is home to many faiths and Christian denominations.

As the journey towards Easter continues, I encourage everyone to be mindful of each other, and the blessings that we have individually and collectively received. I pray for our Pope Emeritus, that his decision was one of acceptance of God’s will. I especially pray that we acknowledge God’s favor in our lives with generous and prayerful acts of thanksgiving.