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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year


Carolyn Shields
MSM Class of 2014

(3/2012) C.S. Lewis wrote a novel called "The Screwtape Letters" which is written in a series of letters from Uncle Screwtape (a demon) to his nephew Wormwood with advice on how to get humans away from Christ. The following passage has hit me hard as of late:

"The humans live in time but our Enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity…Our business is to get them away from the eternal. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human to live in the Past…And it is far better to make them live in the Future, the Future inflames hope and fear."

It hit me because I’m falling for this trickery. I live so often in the past because I know it was beautiful. My past is safe. And every day I’m working so hard for my future to ensure that it is beautiful, but I have such trouble focusing on the here and now. In Europe I felt like I never lived for the moment so often in my entire life, but back home it’s different. Back home—here, it’s difficult focusing on my first Faith and Field meeting tomorrow, my book club tomorrow, the two speeches I have due on Thursday, the exam that I haven’t studied for yet this week, my job application for this summer, and upcoming retreats…

So this month we Mount writers decided to look into our past and review some of our favorite experiences. I have a shelf full of twenty journals in our home library that I could review, but I need to realize that right now—this moment—is just as precious to me as my past. That my journal entry for today (a long solitary walk on the mountain and stress from drowning in work) is just as important as last year’s. But my past has made me who I am, and like I said, my short history at the Mount is filled with so many beautiful experiences…

When I think of my favorite memories here, I first think of the parties we had at my house with my friends during the school year. The Pringle Mingle last January was the epitome of finding excuses to get people together. My sister Kathy (a senior) and I decided last year to celebrate the vast variety of Pringles. Who knew Cheddar Cheese and Cheesy Cheddar tasted so differently? The night was filled with DanceDanceRevolution, a toasty fire with crusty snow outside, and a little bit of swing dancing. Another was David, Emily, and my Surprise Going Away party when my house was flooded with green and orange balloons and so many friends. Or our recent Cookie Baking Night, with so.many.cookies. and a jam session around the piano where we belted CeeLo Green’s "Forget You," and my dad won every ping pong game against all of my guy friends.

But at the Mount? Behind all those hours of work in the library and tapping my pen anxiously on my desk looking outside at the beautiful weather? There’s been a lot of laughs. Like the first big snowfall of my freshmen year when after 10 p.m. Mass all of us were ambushed and got into a snowball fight with Fr. Brian. Or last St. Patrick’s Day when all of my friends went square dancing and stood in lines clapping as friends dosey-doed down the line. Or whispered discussions with friends in empty chapels. Or just simply capturing the moment for others by being asked to take photos of social events with my camera, like the first Mass of the year or Campus Ministry picnics.

The FOCUS Halloween party in my freshmen year was also superb. I dressed as Robin Hood/a boyscout/Peter Pan, and the night was filled with dancing beneath the stars and guitars around a bonfire. That was also the night I met Emily. There must have been fifty people crammed in the small dining room of the off-campus house, jumping up and down and twirling and wiggling to the music.

"Stir the pot! Stir the pot!" Emily, who was dressed as Wanda in red and white stripes and thick black glasses said.

We made eye contact stirring the pot, ready to jump at the climax of the song.

And our friendship blossomed from there. And who knew then that just one year later, I would be in Paris and she would be traveling in western Ireland with her parents? That we would think of each other constantly on the sole weekend during our study-abroad trip that we weren’t together? That exactly one year from that date, she would buy me a bracelet from the Our Lady of Knock Shrine, and I would buy her nail polish on the Champs Elysees? Who knew that Wanda and Robin Hood/a boyscout/Peter Pan would become so close?

So I’ve had amazing memories here at the Mount, and I know there are so many more to look forward to. I’m not quite half way done, and it blows my mind that these memories are about to be doubled.

Read other articles by Caroline Shields