Letter to My Fellow Gophers

Hello fellow gopher!

After months of preparation, you’ve finally made it to the University of Minnesota! These moments are likely going to be filled with anxiety, energy, and excitement, and it’s all completely normal. I’m sure by now you’ve walked the U of M campus many a time, gape-mouthed; enthralled—and slightly terrified—by the abundance of new people, buildings and sights around you. Take a second to appreciate the amazing views, enjoy the warm weather (while it lasts!) and contemplate the incredible opportunities such a diverse campus will offer you throughout the year.

It can be overwhelming thinking about the activity teeming on such a large campus to say the least. Amidst that, there are so many opportunities to be engaged in various club communities, and you might become bogged down in the process of finding your own niche. There are so many choices, and it can be easy to feel lost in a sea of people. Taking the extra step to become part of a smaller community can be critical in helping you feel connected on a large campus.

I initially sought out Lutheran Campus Ministry (or LCM for short) purely to maintain a piece of my home routine as a source of comfort, attending the weekly Wednesday services just as I had in high school. My mom first pointed out the brick church to me during move in, “Look, I bet you could go to church there!” I had probably shrugged, but I returned later, and I decided to check out what Grace University Lutheran Church had to offer. I had no idea what opportunities and friendships taking the first step of getting involved in LCM would lead me to. What had started as a search for familiarity quickly turned into an essential part of my school routine.

The welcoming faces and sounds of LCM were what kept me coming back. There is something relaxing about listening to the bluegrass worship style that our student musicians emulate so well. Comforting voices and smiling faces readily greet you, and compassionate people listen to relieve you of your stress or simply to laugh. The shared student experience bonds the community in a unique way, and creates a tight network of support when it is most needed.

LCM fulfilled many of the needs I often neglected as a busy student: moments of escape and serenity in weekly worship services, spiritual fulfillment through faith development, and physical nourishment through weekly Tuesday soup lunches. When stress distracts you from maintaining emotional and physical well-being, LCM reminds you to care for yourself—and especially others—in many ways. There are many opportunities in this ministry to extend your love to other people on campus, and use the gifts you have been given to actively live your faith in the world around you. I was continuously challenged to see how I can act out justice in the world around me, a gift I am so grateful to have received.

When classes become difficult, or life presents challenging circumstances, this faith community is a stable foundation of support when you are in need. College can be a whirlwind of obligations, studying and homework. LCM invites you to pause amidst the cacophony of daily life and recharge yourself spiritually, emotionally and physically in the presence of some truly wonderful people. Through this group I have found the courage to ask questions, act out justice and love others with no bounds.

I hope you too will find the joy and belonging which this group has brought me in your time at the U.

Peace and love,

Mara

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