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Staying in Touch During Summer

      Reflecting on my first year here at Eastern, I realize I have had some of the best experiences of my life since coming to school here. I have been so fortunate to have built relationships with amazing professors who truly care about not only my academic skills but also my soul and myself as a person. I have encountered new and challenging ideas which have changed the way I see the world and other people.

      The biggest thing I am thankful for, however, is studying alongside people who have become some of my closest friends. My friends and I frequently find ourselves laughing in disbelief at the fact that we haven’t even known each other for a whole year. At Eastern I have been welcomed into a community filled with love and care for one another. Upperclass students have welcomed me with open arms and taught me so much about what it means to be a true friend and to love well. But now the graduation robes are on sale, the due dates for final papers are fast approaching and my friends are escaping to places where they can drink, smoke and park where they like without fear of heavy fines. I will begin the long eight-hour drive back home, far away from the wonderful people I have been so fortunate to share my life with this year.

      So how does one stay in touch with friends? Keeping up with people has never been my strength, and even when I do remember to respond to a text message, it’s never the same as seeing someone face-to-face. Of course group messages will hopefully stay alive, and Snapchat streaks will be preserved, but is this the same as really staying in touch? While I am ashamed to say that I don’t know this by experience, the more I think about staying connected with my friends this summer, the more I think about prayer. Texting, Snapchatting and even talking on the phone can never be the same as actually living life with the people you love, but perhaps prayer can unite us to people even when they are far away.

      Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, in his book “Beginning to Pray,” writes about the mystery of being united to God’s divine love for people through prayer. Quoting from Father Silouan’s experience with prayer, he writes, “In the beginning I prayed with tears and compassion for Nicholas…but as I was praying the sense of the divine presence began to grow on me, and at a certain moment it grew so powerful that I lost sight of Nicholas…and I could be aware only of God, and I was drawn by the sense of the divine presence deeper and deeper, until all of a sudden, at the heart of this presence, I met the divine love holding Nicholas, his wife and his child, and now it was with the love of God that I began to pray for them again.”

      Though we might not know all of the problems and joys our friends will face during our time apart, we can still pray for them and be united to them through the love of God. Texting and Facetiming are still useful ways to talk to our friends and stay updated about their lives, but the only way we can truly love our friends well, near or apart, is by loving and praying for them with the divine love of God.

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