As a kid growing up in New York, Ohio might as well have been a mythical place like Narnia or Iowa. It all seriousness, my decision to go made me seem crazy. Oh the jokes I heard: “Did you say ‘Stupidville’?” or “Did you just make that up?” And believe me they weren’t the only ones who thought it was a little insane. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that going there would be what God asked me to do. And never would I have guessed that He would have kept me there for so long.
I am now approaching the end of my sixth year, and as I sit in the same chair in the student center for what is probably the hundredth (and quite possibly the last) time, I can’t help but think that this place, this school has given me so much more than I even deserve. My time here has made me feel more alive than I ever had before. It has reinvigorated me. It has given me a taste of beauty and truth that only makes one long to taste it more, a taste one would give up their entire lives to pursue.
It is the taste of chocolate chip pancakes, five pounds of cold spaghetti, and lukewarm hot chocolate from a vending machine.
The taste of chasing the sunset through Assisi, drinking water out of stone fountains clearly not made for drinking, and hitchhiking on a freezing Parisian night.
The taste of unexpected and beautiful friendships and long car trips looking for a homeless man.
The taste of late nights, pipe tobacco, and philosophy, or perhaps of late nights, beer, and the editing of a radio drama.
The taste of professors who will kick your butt because they know you are capable of greatness, of professors who will stop at nothing to help you do good in this world, and of professors who will maybe even grab a burger with you.
The taste of live music, poetry, stargazing, and graveyard walks. The taste of red wine and cartoons on a Sunday.
The taste of suffering redemptively, roses, and sisterhood.
The taste of adoration and a hard confession.
The taste of salty tears of heartache, loss, and sharing in another’s pain.
The bittersweet taste of joys of a heart being stretched, of learning to love deeper and more fiercely.
The taste that has taken my old self and completely transfigured it.
For this Steubenville, I thank you with my whole being, and I promise to do everything I can to make you proud.