Life exists within death, and death exists within life. It is just like compost; dead matter nourishing new growth. The ending feeds the beginning, and yet the beginning feeds the ending. You cannot have one without the other, and neither comes without sacrifice. With graduation fast approaching, there is an acute awareness of the ending of something which has been undoubtedly good and corresponding feelings of not wanting to leave it.
At EMU I was asked to engage the doubts, questions, fears, ponderings, and imaginings that exist within this place and its people, as well as our broader world. As a result, I feel more like a woman than I ever have before, often in awe of the person I have become, for she is both more and less than I imagined her being.
When I started college four years ago, I had specific goals and dreams. These have slowly died, giving rise to new ones. Though a painful process laden with doubt and surrendering, I have learned the value of letting go while also receiving graciously. I would not be the person I am today had I not died to old dreams, allowing new perspectives to be integrated.
I have established new comfort zones, and now the time has come to leave them. In this world of academia I have blossomed, but this goodness becomes most meaningful when it expands beyond EMU. And so, another round of dying accompanied by more growth is required as I move from nursing student to RN. With my time at EMU coming to a close, I feel a need to mourn all that will be lost.
Each of my professors have taken time to know me personally; even professors who never had me for class know my name. Living conditions are ideal with the convenience of friends being only a walk away and enhanced by evenings filled with Parkwoods porch music. From spontaneous craft nights to potlucks, socialization became literally creative and nourishing.
Late night walks and early morning sunrises on the hill, meandering barefoot to class, crocus clusters throughout the grass, sending and receiving random notes in campus mail, and pickup Frisbee on Friday afternoons are small tidbits of what has encompassed the beauty of this community.
With graduation, these interactions will die as we scatter in different directions, never to be in the same place all at once as we are now. But just think, my friends, of the rich compost which this ending will become, and the resulting new life that has the potential to spring forth!
It is our experiences here that will feed the new beginnings we are entering into as we remember what challenged us and how we rose to it, what refreshed us and how we lived into it. As we prepare to leave, I dare you to remember.
Take time to notice the beauty of the landscaping, to savor interactions with friends, professors, and strangers, to name the losses in company with the gains. What makes this place special to you? What will you carry with you as you leave?
Take these memories, and be shaped. Become vulnerable as you leave this space and enter another. Together we have grown in this place, and now it is time to grow from this place. Inspired by what we were here, it is time to continue on the journey of shaping and being.
-Tessa Gerberich, Contributing Writer