a weekend filled with gratitude

pink boots

Last weekend was the first weekend: the weekend after the first week of classes. And rather than relax and unwind whilst simultaneously winding (up for the new semester), I sacrificed my weekend for a retreat.

This retreat was different because I wasn’t a standard participant. It’s a First Year retreat, for freshmen to develop their roots as college Catholics. My First Year retreat was a vivid and transforming experience for me, so I felt the need to give back. That need called me to organize the food for the first years. Of course, I also signed up two months before the retreat’s scheduled date, believing it would be a piece of cake when the time finally came.

little snow rocks

Only as I was making my Costco list did I realize what I was in for. I had to plan and purchase food (reimbursed of course) for 20 people?! For a weekend?!

Estimating quantities was so stressful that I wanted to give up, to throw my list at anyone else and say, “You do this. I want my first weekend to myself, not around stupid freshmen.”

My wonderful friends came with me to Costco, and the five of us dominated the self-checkout like pros, scanning and stacking and boxing. And my miracle station wagon managed to hold all the food along with a full load of passengers. Even though Brad now cringes at the word Costco, we made it out alive.

door lock & yellow screw

And I made it out to a wonderful world of snow, light, and space.

I spent a lot of time in the kitchen, yes, but I also spent a lot of time retreating. Bonding with the freshmen over our shared faith, sharing stories and experiences and beliefs. I cooked and served them lovingly, and they all helped me and nobody complained when food was a few minutes late.


What struck me was that, even with a 3-year age gap, our retreat conversations were so relevant. When we were all speaking from our hearts, the feelings were universal.

Then breaktime would ensue, and the bond was broken as talk turned to dining hall food and freshmen classes. But I still remember those magical moments.

how retreaty is this?

So maybe I did need a retreat. Mine was a retreat of service and reflection, and so much gratitude. Grateful that I had gone on the retreat as a freshman; grateful that I had signed up for kitchen duty on a whim. I lost a weekend, but I gained perspective: that’s enough.

(and i served my “secret recipe”, ultimate overnight french toast, so everyone was happy.)

2 Responses

  1. Stephanie Saniga says:

    How beautiful, Sam!

  2. Stephanie Saniga says:

    And so glad Fluff is back!

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