being back

Dad and I flew out of Grand Rapids yesterday morning and arrived in Seattle yesterday morning.  It was a pretty long morning.  I started a new journal on the plane and wrote a good six pages in it.  Rainier from the plane…

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Dad helped me settle into my room a bit and headed out.  I should mention that I came early because I will be serving my residence hall as president this year.  Nearly every minute since Dad left has been leadership training, eating, or preparing for Welcome Week—the half-week when all of the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed freshmen come in and we inject excitement straight into their veins.  Busy, busy.  But good busy.  Busy with the really fantastic people in Hall Council with me.  It will be a great year.

The leadership training hasn’t been typical.  Hall Councils have to miss half of the sessions to prepare for the freshman, but the sessions we have attended focused on the leader as a whole, acknowledging that many leaders don’t feel fit to lead for a plethora of reasons.  Words like “broken” and “healing” and “love” are used as often as “career” or “management.”  The speaker treats the topic of leadership almost like a liberal art.  Now is the time to look inward because we bring what’s inside of us to the people around us, intentionally or not.  I think the goal is to create leaders who act out of compassion and love; who lead because they were loved and treated compassionately.  I think that’s a good goal.

The campus is pretty empty—my small floor especially.  It really makes you realize that it isn’t the place that makes something memorable, it’s the people.  It’s how we interact with each other and the place.Part of Hall Council’s preparation includes decorating the dorm’s lobby.  Our council chose to take pictures of hangouts and sights popular amongst SPUdents and post them as suggestions, leaving space for others to post their own pictures.  But we needed pictures.  So we, all of seven of us, piled into our secretary’s car.  A significant part of my extracurricular college experience has been being in or driving a tightly packed car.  # students  > # cars.  The secretary drove, the publicist and the senator (who I had to order not to travel in the trunk) sat in the passenger seat, and four of us sat in the back.  Of course, driving like this is illegal.  We therefor always ensure that enough people can duck or hide if police are sighted nearby.

We drove to Fremont.  Crossing the bridge took a while due to randomly intense traffic.  Halfway across the bridge, someone in the front seat said, “Oh crap.”  I ducked and the intercultural coordinator and vice-president threw their hoodies over me.  “There are so many of them.  They’re just standing on the side of the road!”  The po po.  The two in the front seat tried to configure themselves so that only one of their heads was visible, but it was impossible.  Our publicist said, “I’ll just get out and walk.  Meet you at Blue Moon?”

A minute or so later he sent a text to one of us.  “We can’t take a picture at Blue Moon.  There’s a body.”

The remaining six of us drove past the police.  I couldn’t see anything, of course, but I heard the gasps of my friends.  On the large concrete walking area to our right was a yellow tarp with a hand protruding from underneath.  People on the other three corners of the intersection stood staring.  Our publicist, who saw the scene before we did, said he saw more, including the head.  By the time we had turned around to drive to our next neighborhood, the body was completely covered.  Policemen interviewed witnesses.

Well, let’s go take pictures of the ice cream place.  Ok.

Had we left our dorm ten minutes earlier…

College is a time of intense questioning and struggling in addition to all the frozen yogurt and bubble tea runs.  For people who are depressed especially, these questions and struggles can be suffocating.  Suicide is a common cause of death for students.  I know nothing about the man who shot himself in Fremont today, but I believe his life was so valuable.

I love my hall council.  I love them because I don’t think they ran for office to spray paint on butcher paper, to choreograph little introduction dances, or even to learn more about themselves.  But if these things are what it takes to show love to one person who doesn’t feel loved, they’ll do it all.  And have fun doing it, too.

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