I did not want to come to the University of Dallas. It was far away from my home in a strange place that, up to that point, I had only known as “the South.” For my 18-year-old self, Dallas seemed as far as the moon.
Logically, I knew that UD was a perfect fit. It had the major that I wanted, with an opportunity to study the Core I adore. There were many more job opportunities in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex than in my New England home. Finally, it offered the Rome program. But this was logic — my heart wasn’t in it.
Then, one day, I stumbled across the treasure trove known as the “UD Underground” YouTube channel. This proved to be an ancient (circa 2012) collection of digital records of the adventures and doings of previous UD classes, both in Rome and in Irving. The quality of the videos varied substantially and the content in some was obviously more spontaneous than in others, yet these videos provided a very real portrayal of the day-to-day life of UD students.
The pivotal moment in my initial relationship with this school occured when I watched the video chronicling several students hiking to the top of Mount Parnassus. Mount Parnassus, the ancient home of the gods, overlooks the great ruins of the temple of Delphi, from which the great Oracles of Apollo pronounced their utterances. This video featured a shaky camera and opened with a caution to avoid abusing the Queen’s English. The narrator was obviously out of breath from his journey, and the windblown and rumpled cast of characters evidenced the epic climb. They proudly described how they had utterly ignored the footpath, forging their own way up the near-vertical slope.
Yet it was not their brave — or foolish — deed which inspired me to join with love and desire the ranks of Catholic “independent thinkers.” Nor was it the sea and the temple below them, which were obscured by fog to the point of rendering videography impossible, even if the hand which held the camera had been steadier. Rather, the moment came when the adventurers first discovered that below their feet lay not one, but two, beautiful and pronounced rainbows, which seemed to stretch out and grasp the Mount just below their feet.
“Look, there comes Apollo,” said one as the rainbows came into view. “We had to please him by climbing all the way up the mountain.” They were from UD, and that is how people from UD think. However, this pagan utterance was followed almost immediately by a “Thank you, God.” And that exclamation was not directed to the god Apollo but our God who is One. They were from UD, and that is how people from UD think.
The spontaneous outbursts which we don’t plan, the actions we do when we are least thinking about ourselves are what truly show who we are. Our words and reactions when we are surprised — whether by sorrow or joy — display most accurately where our hearts and minds lie. The beauty that I have now found in the people of UD is the same beauty of this small and forgotten clip — the beauty of the mind which can encompass and relate physical sweat to ancient cultures and to our glorious God as He is recognized as the creator of the whole, wonderful, intricate web.
We will be leaving soon. The holidays and our homes call us back, and our work can only improve after some well-earned rest. Yet, I hope that UD has become, to some extent, as much of a home for you as it is for me.