There Comes a Time

AbbyDefaultAbby Hevert, ’15

On Friday, I received an unusual message from my mother. She asked me to call her, if I could, and so I did. I got on the phone and it was my dad, telling me that my grandfather was dying. My grandfather was leaving the hospital and going back home after a terrifyingly short battle with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which deteriorates the body, sometimes in a very fast way. They were in the car headed to see him in his final days, and I was in Munich, Germany, halfway across the world with limited ways to change flights home and cancel travel to Austria, Croatia, and Switzerland. Every time I used my hostel’s phone, I only heard people who spoke German. I pleaded, in English, with the simplest of vocabulary: “change flight, please!” It was fruitless. The internet stopped working. I was stuck. So I did the one thing I could think to do: I called my brother.

Mark, my brother, picked up and talked to me about my grandfather. He and I then started to talk about how incredible it was that I was in Germany, my grandfather’s home country. It seemed to the both of us that it was almost poetic that I was in the place where my grandfather started while he was at his end. I cried and explained to my brother how devastated that I was that I could not say goodbye to Grandpa. I screamed, got frustrated, and cried “Mark, get me home! Right now! Get me home!” He, being the beautiful person that he is, said: “Abby. This is the world telling you that there is nothing you can do right now. I need you to go get a shower, talk to your friends, vent, say some prayers, get a beer, and walk around Munich for Grandpa. Breathe it in and then breathe it out for him. You are exactly where you should be. Let go. The universe is in control right now.” So, I took all of that advice. I walked down to the Glockenspiel (one of the most famous landmarks in Germany), said around fifty Hail Mary’s, and purchased a beer at a sketchy kebab place. I went back into my room and felt more at peace than ever. No plans had been made. My grandfather was still dying. I was still thousands of miles away from my family. And, yet, the peace I felt was more overwhelming than my stress. I surrendered to the universe. It was time for my grandfather to go home to his eternal one and it was time for me to go home to my temporary one in Massachusetts, leaving my time abroad. I knew that the universe would find a way for me to get home and it did. I flew home on Monday without any regrets or hard feelings. It was my time to go and so I trusted that the universe was leading me in the right direction. I realized that everyone has a time to leave; including my grandfather. He was at peace with his departure and so I was at peace with mine.

I came home on Monday and went to PC on Tuesday. There, I saw so many seniors. They were all telling me about their upcoming plans after graduation, or lack thereof. They were mostly unsure, mostly terrified, and mostly sad to be leaving PC. Of course, they are all still incredible. The class of 2014 is still amazing in every respect. They always made me feel welcomed, important, respected, and comforted. The seniors at Providence College are ones for the history books. They challenged each other and their school. They make differences, live completely, and enjoy their experiences at PC fully. They live their time at PC wholeheartedly. And, of course, with this commitment to live completely and fully comes a “catch twenty-two,” of sorts. When we invest ourselves in something or someone, we are at risk of being hurt when that something or someone goes away. Because I had endowed myself to my family, I was saddened at the passing of my grandfather. And because the seniors of Providence College have invested themselves completely in their school, they will also be saddened when it is their day to depart. Seniors, take a lesson from my grandfather. When he was asked how he was feeling when he was leaving this earth, he smiled and said “terrific.” He was devoted in life, reaped the benefits, and left feeling complete. And, so, even though it is difficult to do, I ask the class of 2014 to perhaps smile during these last few weeks, think back on your time, and be thankful that you were invested. When you get that diploma, I hope you do not say: “But I did not have enough time!” I hope, instead, you smile and say, fondly, “terrific.”

Because, after all, the time comes for all of us to depart. But, always remember, that with departures come new arrivals. Exits lead to entrances. Last days lead to first days. Good things lead to great things. Great things lead to better things. So, 2014, although your time is nearing for your departure, remember to surrender to the universe. There comes a time for all of us to leave. But there also comes a time for all of us to start anew, become better, and embark on the next adventure. It is all a part of this universal plan, you see. It is beyond us so surrender to it. It will not lead you astray, I promise you. It assigns us all a time to leave so that we can start something better.

So, 2014: I ask you to yield to the universe. After all, there always comes a time.

Nobody’s Sidekick: Where are the Next Crusaders?

IMG_497604574877~2Matthew Henry Smith, ’16

My little brother, Benjamin, (the last Smith child) recently introduced me to Young Justice. Recently acquired by Netflix Streaming, this cartoon tells the story of DC’s Justice League elevating their assistants from simple sidekicks to Protégés.

You should know Superheroes are taken very seriously in my house. We pour over IMDB for updates on the newest X-Men movies. We debate Christology and LGBT themes in the Marvel Universe. But DC’s Young Justice recently took my thoughts in a different direction.

Young Justice isn’t a coalition of sidekicks. Instead, Kid-Flash, Robin and the gang are tomorrow’s heroes. The concept of Superheroes training the next generation of caped crusaders had me thinking about our own student leaders. Could it be that this Saturday morning cartoon is a serendipitous allegory to for the stories of our campus’ club executives, student writers, programmers, athletes, guides and representatives? You bet.

Even before Buzzfeed came around you were taking tests to tell you “what sort of person you are.” These tests are meant to be helpful, and direct your focus towards preexisting strengths you can hone. That said, they’ve very seriously perpetuated a damaging stereotype of leadership.

Sure, some folks were born with skills and personality traits that are objectively acute for leading. Consider the Type-A’s, the extroverts, those for whom leadership comes naturally. These people are the ones among us who are most sought after to lead.

That said, it is dangerous to think that the only people who can lead were born to do so. Leadership is not always extroversion. Sometimes it’s diligence. But always it’s selfless dedication to a cause that often predates and hopefully outlives the leader.

One of the dangers of narrowing the definition of leadership is that, eventually, we come to expect that only these sorts of people will lead us. And because there are more executive positions than there are Type-A’s, leadership monopolies form like soft student oligarchies. It’s never malicious and isn’t always harmful. But what happens when students who are considering getting more involved see the same faces at the top of every chain of student command? If I weren’t a “Type-A” kind of guy, I might be intimidated to get involved when student leadership is dominated by a similar few.

After thinking about this for a while, I’ve come up with a check-in list for the binary that has formed. Here’s the breakdown for those who weren’t the first to jump on the involvement train:

  1. There’s always time, but not as much as there was yesterday.
  2. Your ideas are important.
  3. There isn’t a perfect formula for leadership. Find someone who inspires you, but lead with your own qualities.
  4. You can lead from unelected/appointed positions.

And here’s the breakdown for the Type-A’s:

  1. Seek opportunities to empower others to lead.
  2. You don’t need to lead every time you are asked to.
  3. Allow for people to try, to fail, to try again, and to prove you wrong.
  4. You can still lead from unelected/appointed positions.

Causes and clubs shouldn’t rise and fall on the backs of singular members. The best leaders empower all connected in the cause to rise to the challenges of these responsibilities. Especially when it comes to campus leadership, we should always remember that less than four years from any point in our collegiate journeys we won’t be part of the picture.

In short we are doing very well. Our clubs are strong and our student leadership is sincere. This is simply a reminder to always seek out who is coming next – especially as some Friars approach commencement.

Consequently this presents the opportunity to announce that a new tab will be appearing soon for students to submit guest pieces to the writers of Friarside Chats. We’re looking for fresh new ideas and, of course, our own next generation of forward-thinking editorialists.

Anyway, you’ve got a whole summer coming your way to consider sharing your own load or helping out with someone else’s.

Keep at it, Super-Friars. And in the meantime, check out Young Justice… if only because it takes place in Rhode Island.