TTLG: Dartmouth Students: Ponder the Divine
Tulio Huggins ’23 reflects on his Christian experience at Dartmouth and how he’s learned to think about the Divine.
Source: Courtesy of Tulio Huggins
I knew coming to Dartmouth that I wanted to be involved in the Christian community. For the last four years, as the community has shifted, I have also grown as a person. At the start of my journey, I was a part of more Protestant circles, given my background in Southern Baptist churches. However, by the end of my time at Dartmouth, I feel more that after my ponderings, I have been more drawn to Catholicism, now feeling more at home with Aquinas House and the Eucharist.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering the divine, though I feel in no way like I have scratched the surface. There is so much to know and so much to think about. However, this pursuit of spiritual knowledge seems to be excluded from Dartmouth’s culture. We can easily get caught up in the pursuit of our internships, grades, Greek spaces and sports. And these things aren’t bad — they can certainly be beautiful aspects of our lives. But Dartmouth students, I believe there is more to life than simply working at the best consulting firm, getting good grades and going to parties. I think we have to get past these superficial desires, thinking they will truly bring us meaning.
The relationship between religion and Dartmouth goes back all the way to its founding. Religion has often been co-opted by various groups, people and even the objectives of the College’s establishment. However, spirituality at Dartmouth also has an amazing history of students looking up at the skies and asking questions about why we are here on this Earth. During my time here, I’ve also encountered these questions.
Sometimes it happens when I am on the golf course, walking around and experiencing nature, thinking about how the trees and animals are full of beauty and creativity. Other times it’s when I’m in my fraternity, talking and laughing with my friends and recognizing that this joy and thankfulness for the people around me have to point to something or someone. And there have been times during pain and suffering, whether seeing my friends mourn the death of one of our classmates or seeing the effects of sexual violence on this campus, where I have cried out in tears, wondering why injustices like these happen.
Although Dartmouth students think about important issues in their studies and everyday lives, I’ve noticed that these questions such as, ‘Why are we here? Is there a God? Who is this God, if there is one?’ are easily forgotten and ignored. You just write some discussion posts you’ve missed for the past week, or maybe you go out to play pong. Or you might say that those questions and some of those answers are not relevant to your life, and that religion and spirituality are not for the academically-inclined Dartmouth student. But I think my time at Dartmouth has been blessed by taking time to just sit with these questions.
Through these ponderings, I’ve discovered joy, I’ve discovered love and I have decided to go into campus ministry for at least the next two years. I’m going to be staying at Dartmouth and pushing students to think about these questions — I want them to ask, is there more to life than what’s on the surface? Because I think there is.
There is a sense of excitement in where this discovery of the Divine will take me in the next couple of years after I leave the Upper Valley. Will I become a priest? I don’t think so, but maybe for my 10-year reunion, I will come back wearing a religious habit. A professor? I would love that, but especially after this term, more schooling doesn’t immediately seem to be what I want to do. Will I choose a different path entirely? Who knows. But I know that I have to at least thank the times from these past four years where I’ve looked up to the skies, sat during Mass or worshiped with friends and wondered about where life finds its purpose.
And hey, I know that my specific faith tradition might not be what people end up with. I for sure did not think I was going to end up on the Catholicism train when I came to Dartmouth. But, I am starting to ask those questions about our place in this world and what we are. And I think college is a perfect time for that.
So, if you are ever at the end of frat row on an “on-night,” maybe take a trip down to the Aquinas House chapel and sit down in silence, and think. You might just discover a new way to think about the Divine.Tulio Huggins ’23 reflects on his Christian experience at Dartmouth and how he’s learnt to think about the Divine.