Eagle's Eye

The True Ties That Bind

"Above all, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Proverbs 4:23

Spring is an annual awakening to renew the wellsprings of life and a time for remembrance. I sit quietly in the common room of our new Vincentian Residence with my frayed prayer book and coffee as the Niagara River Gorge changes from solemn grey to verdant green, and I reflect not only on the present hustle and bustle, but of times past.

Remembrances of times past span the gamut: fleeting years as a student; a steady stream of alumni who return to marry and baptize their children; year-end celebrations for long-serving professors and staff; joyful silver and gold Vincentian jubilees; graduation; and inevitable retirement parties. All these events remind me of the deep and abiding ties that bind us here on Monteagle Ridge, the wellspring of our community.

Our students also seek these "ties that bind," not just in the camaraderie of classmates, or approbation of administrators and professors, but in human, "for real" relationships that transcend the breakneck pace of e-mail, texting and Blackberry (yep, they're here in abundance!) modes of communication. A recent event which received a surprisingly strong response from our students showed me that the "ties that bind" go deeper than the electronic or the immediate. Let me explain.

Campus ministry initiated a "Grandparents Blessing" at Sunday Masses this year. Although the day seemed destined to be a haven for Hallmark, we created a prayer card for Mass and a postcard to be sent to grandparents. The latter held a simple message:
For love lavished beyond measure,
For happy hours always to treasure,
For bounteous meals at holidays season,
For wealth of memories beyond all reason,
For quality of life that examples impart,
I love you, my grandparents, with all my heart.

Students were invited to take both prayer and postcards. Two printings later, they still ask for them. More importantly, this event opened a dialogue between campus ministers and students. A week rarely goes by without a call or a visit to the office to ask for prayers for a sick grandparent, to share excited news of a recent note or visit, or to simply tell stories of how these elders have impacted their lives.

Recently, after a long and exhausting meeting with a student group, a junior proudly told me how he talks to his grandfather (who happens to be Thomas Blanchfield, Class of 1951) almost every day. "I can't tell you enough what an important part of my life he is to me," he said. His sentiments are often echoed in other comments by students.

The connection we seek to remember - whether with family, friends or NU - is related to the deeper dimension of the lifeline we seek within ourselves and our God. St. Vincent de Paul reminded his followers of this age-old truth: "If God is the center of your life, no words will be necessary. Your mere presence will touch hearts." May this spring season touch our hearts so we may remember the grace and goodness of a God whose ties bind us to each other and to his eternal and everlasting love, a wellspring that knows no end.