ESCAPE+CCC: One Year Later

Pedro Arrupe, SJ Community Room at the Calcagnini Contemplative CenterWith the passing of the one year anniversary of the dedication of ESCAPE’s new home, the Calcagnini Contemplative Center, just a few weeks ago, it’s incredible to think about how much has changed in the past year.

At the end of every ESCAPE retreat, we invite students to write a letter to themselves. They are given a chance to sit down with a pen and paper after all the personal reflection an overnight entails – to write out their thoughts, creating a permanent snapshot of their current selves – to address an envelope (which doesn’t happen as often as it should in this connected age).

ESCAPE keeps the letters safe, hidden in a box in our office to be fished out 365 days later and returned to the author. The reactions we’ve seen to getting a letter from one’s past self have been quite diverse:

Boy, was I stupid back then.

I burst into tears while reading it.

I was not in a good place a year ago…

This was exactly what I needed to keep me going.

I don’t even know if I want to open it…

Whether receiving a time capsule of who you were one year ago is a blessing in disguise, a painful reminder of who you used to be, or a permanent image of how much you’ve grown, we believe the value these letters contain lies in the perspective they bring.

ESCAPE provides perspective to our students. Students get to connect with the unique stories and life experiences of their peers. They are physically removed from campus to a place where you can actually see all the stars in the sky. And one year later, students can open a letter from their past selves. It’s important to reckon with whatever it was that they were, or weren’t, dealing with in the past. The new perspective may say the letter’s contents are meaningless, painful, or enlightening, but regardless, they were sincere parts of a story, a journey.

So, first-years, join us on an ESCAPE – bask in the beauty of nature and the CCC’s meditative spirit, connect with others, and write yourself a letter. And when the time comes, be sure to pick up your letter from the ESCAPE office. Time may not heal all wounds, but it does give us perspective, and that is a beautiful thing.

ESCAPE Student Coordinators

Neal Chaudhuri (new window), COL ’16
Kathleen Osea (new window), NHS ’16