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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

Hungry for More

Carolyn Shields

(Dec, 2010) Towards the end of November, I took a few steps back when I thought about all the new things Iíve done so far at the Mount. Iíve kept true to who I am, but Iím not as hesitant in trying new things as I was before. I went to my first R-rated film, Paranormal Activity 2, and since Iím someone who prefers historical dramas, I was a little more than nervous. I went to the French circus in Baltimore without understanding how weird it all was but ended up sitting in the crowd with my mouth agape at how amazing the human body can be. Then a few nights later I was standing in a cemetery by myself, dressed all in black beneath a giant oak. I never acted before in my life, but there I was beneath the full moon, ready to recite my "grave" monologue about St. Elizabeth Ann Seton's life. A smile came naturally whenever I recited the lines, "I lived just on this mountain. This place is my home."

So in this first semester I've done more than I expected I would. I did experience new things. Although I'm a commuter, I haven't missed out, but this term went by a lot faster than I thought it would. And that's just it. The first semester is coming to a close already. Wasn't it yesterday when I was at the Mountward Bound retreat, performing silly name games with a bunch of strangers-turned-classmates and friends? I cringe to say it, but my first year is halfway done, and there is still so much that I want to experience! Fall has already reached its peak and the bleakness of winter approaches. I am reminded of it every morning on my walk to school. I've had to pull out my scarves and gloves, and I always take deep breaths when I smell chimney smoke in the air.

I will say that in this first semester of school, the absolute best thing that I did was working on strengthening my relationship with the Big Ranger by going to Eucharistic adoration. After I went for the first time during the school day, I felt such peace and quiet that I was restless the following two days until we had adoration again. For the first time in my life, I experienced what it feels like to be hungry for Godóto yearn for Him so much that you feel antsy. Kutless, a Christian rock band, sings in "Hungry" about yearning for Godís love. "Hungry I come to You for I know You satisfy. I am empty but I know Your love does not run dry."

There is something so humbling about seeing the God of all heaven and earth come in the form of a piece of bread. When I worship Jesus at adoration, I feel so rested that my vision of heaven always comes to mind. When I was little, I visualized heaven as a meadow with lush, green grass. My guardian angel reclined beneath a single tree, playing a flute. My two favorite childhood saints, St. Joan and St. Agnes were there, making garlands out of the wildflowers. They laughed in the distance and I was content to watch them from a little mound of earth where I sit a little ways off.

But over the past few years my idea of heaven has changed. Two images come readily to mind when I kneel during adoration. These two images are golden shadows and warm rain. I am bathed by God's warm rain and rest in shadows of gold. That is my heaven, and I can almost enter it when I'm kneeling before our Lord. In my heaven, I never have to be hungry for God again. I can't describe it in any other wayóhunger. I began my freshmen year inspired by upperclassmen to pray for a closer, more personal relationship with GodóI'm just shocked how it came in a single moment during adoration.

I would love to tell my readers that if you aren't sure whether you really want to go to Mass this Sunday, or if you feel like you should say the rosaryódo it. You never know in which day or in which prayerful moment God will come to you and make you realize just how much you want Him. You don't want to miss that moment.

And now, with Christmas approaching a lot faster than any of us anticipated, we are reminded that our minds should be on Jesus. Thereís the adorable Pampers commercial filled with sleeping babies, reminding us that what we need most on this earth is peace. Thereís the traditional dusty Advent wreaths being pulled out, and what about the Good Will ringing their bells outside of Wal-Mart? All reminders that Jesus was already in our world. He walked amongst us. Now, in this season of Advent, close your eyes and go after Him. Enter His world. Enter your heaven when you find yourself in His presence.

When I imagine Christ as a child, I become overwhelmed with emotion. When I think of Him taking his first steps, I think of Him staggering to Golgotha. When I think about Mary swaddling Him against the cool Jerusalem night, I think about the garments that would be stripped from His body. When I think about Joseph helping Jesus nail his first nail, I think of the nails that held Him aloft for all the world to see.

I feel consumed with fire for the love of the Christ child who would offer his life up for someone who wouldn't be born for another two thousand years. This Christmas, I want to revel in that love. I want to fall into the time when it was just Mary, Joseph, and the newborn Christ in the stable. I think of the intimacy of that momentóof the breaths they took, of their loss of sleep. This Advent, it is time to go after Christ. Think of His pink skin and the soft, wispy black hair on His little head.

Itís hard to fall in love sometimes when youíre kneeling at the foot of your bed, so go find Him waiting for you as the Bread of Life. He will feed your hunger. He will help you love Him. Go adore Him and see what happens. It's been one of the best things I've done all semester.

Read other articles by Caroline Shields