There are so many ways you can meet someone at Georgetown—bumping into each other in the line at UG, in a new class during syllabus week, at a basketball game—the list goes on. For me, it was through a red door.

On Thursday afternoons at 1432 36th street, you don’t have knock before entering. The moment the “Cookie Day” sign goes up, you know you’re welcome into the place where everyone knows your name. Or at least, they will soon. Call it fate or kismet, but we knew we were supposed to meet. Both American Studies majors with a love for the same poetry and television shows, all our friendship needed was a couple of cookies, a few minutes, and a correctly pronounced name. And, it also needed Chaplain-in-Residence Jon Rice.

We came to Cookie Day from different places: Neve is a long-time member of GU Chi Alpha, and Gwen is a Resident Assistant in Jon’s area. While we may have approached the red door for different reasons, we’ve stayed for pretty similar ones. For the regulars at Cookie Day, that hour and a half has become a ritual. We come every week to a house that has become a home for us, where being our genuine and authentic selves is the norm, and where you can always count on there being coffee freshly made in a Chemex.

Don’t forget the cookies: Jenny Rice is a baking genius. Time and the pressures of life on the Hilltop slip away in those hours, phones are tucked into pockets, and conversation flows along with the coffee and tea in our mugs. When you’re at Georgetown, it can start to feel like all you are is a name, a major, and a school. Good luck staying that way after making it to a Cookie Day. We call it the Jon Rice effect. Whenever someone new comes to Cookie Day (or really when ever Jon is introduced to a new face), he makes sure he doesn’t just meet them, he gets to know them. Maybe it’s because he “knows a guy,” but we think it’s something special about the Chaplains-in-Residence at Georgetown. For us it’s at Cookie Day, but walk into any open house in the residence halls and you’ll find a few things you couldn’t anywhere elsewhere. Our list includes (but is so far from limited to): corny jokes, comfy couches, the warmth of a family home, immaculate baked goods, life-altering discourse about the merits of Doctor Who, friends, laughter, acceptance, and above all, a safe space.

The Chaplains-in-Residence program is one of the things that makes Georgetown so unique. The chaplains are incredible men and women who have dedicated their lives to living with college students, listening to us when we need someone most, and being our family far away from home. Yes, we go to Cookie Day for the coffee and the amazing Nutella, Chocolate Chip cookies. But the real reason we show up at that red door—no matter the weather—is that it is a space where we can let our guards down and simply be around friends. We have each built a relationship with Jon; when he asks how we’re doing, we don’t give the cliched “Great, and busy, thanks for asking.” We answer honestly because we know that he genuinely cares. We also found that we could be honest with one another, because we found each other in the cozy safety of the Rice family living room.

Cookie Day doesn’t just end for us when the mugs are arranged in the dishwasher and the chairs are carefully put back in their places. We may exit from the red door, but we carry on its spirit to what we now affectionately call “Cookie Day 2.0,” when the two of us will continue whatever life conversation we had started over coffee (in Neve’s case) and tea (for Gwen). Our friendship may have been built upon our mutual interests, but it was also discovered in a place where we were fully ourselves. We now will go and sit on Gwen’s couch for as long as possible and talk about everything and anything, from relationships to classes to faith. And we have a chaplain to thank for that.

We often find ourselves saying “Reason 57 why we are friends…” whenever we discover a new thing we have in common or a shared sentiment we hold. And we always end those conversations with #ThanksJonRice. Jon is not just another staff member on campus to us. He’s not just another email we get on Thursday mornings. He’s a confidant, chaplain, friend, and a reminder that you are never alone at Georgetown. We could have met at any point in the time and space at Georgetown, but we met at Cookie Day. It feels a bit like a miracle, both that it took us so long to meet what with our similar interests, but also that we met in the right place at the right moments in our college careers.

“The universe is big. It’s vast and complicated and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles.” #ThanksJonRice, for the miraculous friendship you helped us find.

Nevada Schadler, COL’15 & Gwen Lockman, COL’16