Saturday, May 10, 2008

Year One

Five hundred and one days ago, I received by mail an offer of admission to Wheaton College. Two hundred and forty days later, or two hundred and sixty days ago, I moved in to Traber Hall 512 and that evening began Freshman Orientation. Late this morning, I vacated 512 and returned to my childhood home in Oak Park for a term of one hundred and three days. Those two days, December 26, 2006, and August 23, 2007, stood out in my mind today. As did several people and events about which I shall presently discuss.

First I should like to talk a bit about my experiences with the weather. Oak Park and River Forest High School is essentially a single-building campus. The school does have a stadium but, not being an athlete, I spent more or less all of my school days in high school confined to the rooms and corridors of the main building. As such, I was physically separated from the weather. Not so on the eighty-acre, multi-building campus of Wheaton College. A few stretches of particularly cold days in January and February of this year come to mind. I remember one Saturday morning, the first weekend of the spring semester, when it was bright and sunny, but the high temperature for the day was two below. Not to mention that tornado-thunderstorm combination on the first day of Orientation in August. Unfortunately, I was in the laundry room of Smith-Traber Hall at the time, so I have no firsthand knowledge of the events.

Once I made it safely to my destinations and went indoors, away from the weather, I engaged in the rigorous academics that define Wheaton College. My academic growth this past year is my next point. Let me say, for the record, that I learned so much this year. Being a music education major has stretched my mental faculties like nothing else ever has. The constant comments on my improvement from my private trombone instructor, Audrey Morrison, come to mind (my private lessons went really well this semester, for which I am exceptionally thankful). I also really enjoyed the education class I took this semester, so thanks to Steven Loomis in that department for all his work. I am really excited about my major, and at times I have to stop myself from dreaming about the four-year plan I formed over spring break and focus on the classes currently in progress.

One of the best single memories from this past year happened about a month ago. It was the Artist Series’ presentation of the Berlioz Requiem. I wrote on the Requiem in a previous entry, but I want to reiterate how exciting it was to be a part of such a large-scale production, and to watch and hear it go so well. I am really glad that I had the opportunity to stage manage for the performances, and also that most of my friends at Wheaton were involved.

Speaking of my friends leads me to my next point. I should like to write a few words about the amazing people in my life, because I certainly have found some very quality friends at Wheaton College. They are people who actually want to know how I am when they ask, and people who I know will pray for me if I ask and even without me asking. I want to thank in particular my small group leader, Greg Hughes, as well as the other five men in the group, my roommate this past year, Sam Ostransky, and the one friend at Wheaton whom I knew before Wheaton, Heidi Jahns, for all their prayers and support.

And, of course, any summary of the people in my life would not be complete without mention of my amazing, beautiful girlfriend, Naomi Attaway. Aside from the fact that I have had so much fun hanging out with her, she has been incredibly supportive as I struggled with some self-identity and self-esteem issues this semester, and she has also been incredibly gracious as I learned how to be a good boyfriend. Her encouragement and patience and prayers mean so much to me. Our relationship presented some challenges as we learned how to meet each other’s needs, but it has been so rewarding. I am really excited to visit her and her family in Florida in July.

Finally, prompted by a discussion I had with Sam two nights ago, I want to summarize my spiritual growth this year. As I mentioned above, I have had some occasions this semester where my sense of worth was low. I felt at times that I hadn’t accomplished anything of significance (usually right after a particularly unproductive hour in the practice room). But the people who care about me were always there to remind me that I do have worth, and that I have accomplished plenty this year.

That lesson is related to one I had earlier in the year, when I was struggling to let go of my ambitions for college and my life in general and let God have control. I have learned that my worth and value are all because He has chosen to call me His own. God has given me all that I have purely out of love for me, so who am I to try to run my life, to think that my ideas are better than His? I have not stopped being the organized, schedule-oriented person that I am, but I am getting better at making sure everything I do, every project, every commitment, every relationship, is pleasing and glorifying to Him.

And those points are some of the highlights from my freshman year at Wheaton College. People who had already completed their freshman year as of last summer warned me that it would change my perspective and change my life. They were right. I am extremely grateful that I have three and a half months of summer to relax, spend some time with my family, and pursue some personal interests (along with keeping in shape as a musician), but at the same time, I can hardly wait to get back to Wheaton in August.

This is Rubio, over and out.

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