My name is Abigail; I'm a senior English major at Gordon College. I transferred to Gordon after my first semester of college, took last year off to work and spend time with my church back at home in Maine, and so all told, Gordon has been part of my life for four and a half years. Since I've been here for several years, I want to take this opportunity to show you what I see. I would like to take you to some of the places that have become dear to me over the last few years of my life, and let you get a glimpse of what it's been like for me to be here. I have nothing extraordinary to show, just the simple things I've come to love--the things that make it seem normal and comfortable to be here. Since this photojournal doesn't have the clear chronological structure to undergird it that a study-abroad or summer trip may afford, I have decided to organize it loosely according to how I go through my day and week.
This photograph was taken in the Lane student center. I am sitting on "sunny side" or "chapel side." I love the amount of light that comes into this side of Lane, as well as being able to watch the world pass by on the sidewalks. What I most love about Lane is that I've spent more hours hanging out with friends here than anywhere else on campus because it is a central meeting point and everyone has to eat at some point during their day. In the midst of busy days in the library or running from meetings to classes, a meal with a friend can be all it takes to change a day from stressful to enjoyable. I have laughed heartily, had serious conversations, and just caught up with people in Lane, and I look forward to going there because of that.
Chapel has been a staple in my life since I was 18. I'm nearly 23 now, so that's quite a while. (Even last year I came back to campus for a few special chapels.) I have almost invariably sat in the same part of chapel during all that time, pictured here. It started my freshman year, when I transferred to Gordon. My entire floor, and a significant portion of the people who lived in my residence hall all sat together in this row, so that's where I sat. That carried over into sophomore year, and to a lesser extent into junior year. I came back to school this year, only to find that my friends had claimed the same section, two rows up, so I've seen a lot of this part of the chapel. Chapel has played an important role in my life at Gordon, both in terms of providing routine in my week, and in terms of my religious experience of life, affording a chance during the week to experience corporate worship of God if I choose to.
I once thought, several years ago, that I didn't spend enough time in the library. What made me say that was a friend of mine, who seemed always to be there working on something. I realized in observing this, that I wasn't taking full advantage of the rich resource Jenks provides. I'm cured of that now. I've been taking almost exclusively upper-division classes this year, which means I've been doing a lot of research-intensive assignments. Hours have stacked upon hours, to the point that I'm sure I've spent multiple days (maybe even a week) there. Jenks truly is a rich resource. We're a small college, so our library isn't as extensive as a university's, yet there is enough information to make my heart beat a little faster each time I think of all the possibilities that rest silently in the stacks.
I have found that Jenks can be a sanctuary in the midst of my day, a quiet place where I can get settled into doing work. Working in the library is a good solution to the distraction that my room can afford. This is my favorite part of the library, in part because it's quiet but has a good view, and in part because it's the section of the stacks where all the language books are--grammars, the Loeb Classics Series, histories of languages--it's heavenly.
This is Rosie, I've had her for longer than I can remember. I named her for the ribbon rose that used to be attached to her ear (which I ripped off once, so I could wear it). She has be a constant companion to me in several continents, houses, hotels, and, since coming to college, dorm rooms. It might seem odd to include a stuffed animal in the publication of a 22 year-old, but I know that we all have stuffed animals in our hearts somewhere; I just hold mine close to me while I dream. Something I love about being at a small Christian college is that you get to know people well enough to know that they love their bears. Living in residence halls has allowed me to see into people's lives and hearts in a way that isn't possible just from sitting in class with them. So some of the people I see in class know my bear, my parents, my birthday, and I know theirs.
I have lived in this room both junior year and this year. I live in Fulton Hall, which is a suite building. That means each room is adjoined to another room by a bathroom, as opposed to a tradition residence hall, in which one floor uses a community bathroom. I have also lived in Wilson Hall, one of the HUD buildings. HUD stands for Housing and Urban Development, which is the government program that sponsored the building of the HUD dorms. The HUDs are currently the oldest residence halls on campus; Fulton is one of the newest, so my experience of dorm rooms has run the gamut. Each of the buildings I have lived in has its own charms, things that endear them to my heart. Just outside my room in Fulton is what we refer to as a "nook," which is a small enclave furnished with a loveseat and an armchair. I often have worked late into the night there, and sit out there "working" when I want to be able to chat with people as they walk by. In Wilson if you sat in the lobby you were sure to see everyone that lived there as they came in or out. The HUDs are also unique in that, since the government would pay for whatever was attached to the wall, all the furniture is attached to the walls. This presents some interesting challenges in arranging, or perhaps more accurately, becoming used to one's room. Part of life in a HUD is personalizing your room as much as possible, so people often have beautiful displays of photographs, colorful beds, and funny posters in their windows.
Another part of my life at Gordon has been residence life. This is my second year as a Resident Advisor, which means that I am there to support the students on my floor in their lives here at Gordon. That support can be simply talking to someone when they need a sounding board, helping people navigate the waters of roommate relationships, or organizing social and spiritual events. Each floor has its own RA, and we work together as a team to promote community within the building. One of our favorite traditions in Fulton is "Fore on the Floor: Minigolf in the Halls." Carl, one of my fellow RAs this year, is seen here setting up the hole on his floor in preparation for this event. Working with two different staffs has been a great experience, allowing me to connect with and learn to value people whom I otherwise would never have known, except perhaps in passing.
Behind Lane, behind Fulton and Tavilla, behind Frost and Phillips, a pond stretches out in front of the Gordon Woods. I have come to appreciate that, in the midst of the rigors of academic life, I can walk into the woods or look out at the pond. Being in nature, or watching it out the window for a moment as I work, has consistently been something that draws me back into a larger reality than I am usually aware of. Watching a duck swim on the pond, move slowly and focus on gathering food reminds me that God is sustaining not just my sometimes frenzied, often demanding life, but the simple lives of everything I see around me. The woods and the water on campus are signals to me to remember my Creator, and that papers are not what sustain or end the world.
Since my first week at Gordon I've loved Gloucester. I'm not sure that I can tell you what I love about it, but I love it. The ocean, the ships, the variety of unique stores to explore and interesting restaurants to try out might contribute to why I love it. Though Gloucester is perhaps my oldest love in the area, it isn't the only one. I've gotten to know the towns surrounding Gordon fairly well over the years, and I enjoy seeing the variety in the landscape and personalities that each town has. A lot of the towns around here are on the water (as you can see from this picture of Gloucester), which is invaluable to me. I went to college in Vermont for a semester, but, being from Maine and being used to seeing the water almost everyday, I felt claustrophobic being landlocked.
These pews may fool you into thinking that this is a picture of AJ Chapel, but they are part of the sanctuary at East Gloucester Community Church. East Gloucester was the first church I went to as a freshman here. I have gone several other places in the interim, but have ended up back in Gloucester every Sunday morning that I'm here. Church at college can be hard, even, or maybe especially at a Christian college. We hear a lot about God here, and it's expected that one go to church, which can make it hard for those of us who are sometimes contrarians to go. I have found that it's worth going anyway. Church has consistently been the place in my life that God has reached me, mended me, made me new again and again. Going to church surrounded by people I know and see regularly gives us a chance to live out a different depth of church life than when I go with people I see mostly in the context of church functions. We are able, as people who bump into each other in Lane, or work together in classes or at on-campus jobs, gathering to drink in the cool waters of God and to celebrate Him, seek him, listen to him, to declare that we are His first and foremost, in the company of other believers whom we don't see regularly and who are also doing that in their lives. Being able to join with other people my age and engage in church life is profound, as we are all in the midst of discerning the way in which we will go for the rest of our lives.
One day two years ago, during finals, my friend Becca (on the left of the picture) turned to me and said that we should do something that night. I said, "How about mini golf?" thinking that she would turn me down (most of my friends already had). She thought it was a great idea, so I recruited our friend Maggie (on the right of the picture), and off we went that night. We were the second-to-last group to play through, the night was warm and smelled like spring, and we were lighthearted and goofy. After our round of minigolf we hit a bucket of balls at the driving range. All of this happened at Richardson's--one of my favorite places on the North Shore, because of memories like this.
I started with a hot beverage and a book, so let me end with the same. This is the Starbucks in North Beverly. Chances are, if you walk in here you will see a Gordon College student. I value those times when I can get away from campus for a little while and see life go on around me unaffected by my classes, chapel, or dorm. I like to remember that old men sometimes drink coffee and read the paper on Saturday mornings, or that moms who are usually busy ferrying their children around from place to place sometimes meet to breathe and catch up. In short, I like to remember that life happens for other people too, and that each of us, the student, the old man, the busy mother, plays a part in making the world an interesting place to be (or at least in making this Starbucks interesting). Quick trips to coffee shops, to the mall to run errands, to the grocery store to buy snacks, become reminders that the things I am studying here fit into a larger whole, and provide context to keep my life in perspective.