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Campus Chronicles 19: The Joy of Home

This being my Senior year at Baylor I wanted to go all out for my last homecoming as an undergrad. These are my thoughts from the week.

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"There is beauty, there is joy, and there is laughter in life--as there ought to be." - Samuel Palmer Brooks

In the society we live in we typically don't take the time to stop and look around at the incredible things happening around us and fully appreciate them. We can find fault in anything and everything. However, while critique does have its place, life is too short and too full of wondrous, inspiring moments for negativity to dominate our thoughts and our dialogue. Even the smallest every day happenings can serve to remind us of the beauty, the happiness, and the magic around us if we stop just long enough to reflect on them. I was reminded of that this week by a great friend and I hope this article can do the same for many of you.

This past weekend Baylor celebrated its annual Homecoming. As most of you know, Baylor touts itself as having the nation's oldest and largest collegiate Homecoming celebration. At a school full of rich history and too many traditions to count, Homecoming holds a special place above the rest for many. It's easy to see why if you attended any of the events this weekend.

From Mass Meeting to Bonfire to Pigskin to the parade every Homecoming event not only connects us to our past but also reminds us to live fully and thankfully in the present moment. At each event you will see a combination of alumni and students. Alumni possessing a seemingly bottomless well of memories and experiences from their time here, current students still attempting to write our own Baylor stories. Though the finer points may change - like Penland having girls in it now - the overarching themes do not.

One of my favorite conversations from the weekend was one I had with a Mr. Earl Touchstone at the Student Foundation Alumni Reception. Flipping through a Student Foundation scrapbook from 1983 before the event started, I found a picture of Mr. Touchstone coordinating an event I had never heard of called Gold Carpet Day. As fate would have it, I met Mr. Touchstone later that day and after he introduced himself to me I was able to find out that Gold Carpet Day was a Student Foundation run precursor to Baylor's Invitation to Excellence, an event many of my friends attended prior to attending BU. Mr. Touchstone helped coordinate that event as a part of the committee of which I now am a co-chair. I tracked down that scrapbook I had seen him in and showed it to him and both he and his wife were beaming with excitement flipping through it and reminiscing on their heyday at BU.

The joy in their eyes was extremely similar to what I saw from children I passed on the parade route Saturday morning. This year I got to walk in the parade for the first time and it was more incredible than I ever thought it would be. Especially after having to arrive at 5 am to line up for it. Thousands of Baylor Bears of the past, present, and the future lined the streets of downtown Waco and Baylor's campus to cheer us on. The children present had a sort of contagious happiness throughout the whole thing. Whether it was our glorious striped rugby jerseys or just the candy we were tossing out seeing the excitement on their faces was easily the best part of the day. I hope each and every one of you lives your life in a way that you find at least one reason to be that happy at some point during every single day.

This year's Homecoming also served as a reminder that as a Baylor Bear we are forever a part of a family. Baylor's first Homecoming was an event focused on gathering "to renew former associations and friendships, and catch the Baylor spirit again" and that spirit was certainly on display all weekend. Whether in this life or in the next, we are bound together by having spent time in this place. Each year Mass Meeting tells students the story of the Immortal Ten, Baylor students who passed away in 1927 "for they are the We of Us". This year also featured a moving tribute to sophomore student and Golden Wave Band member David Grotberg who passed away earlier this month in a hit and run accident. As the Golden Wave Band presented David's mother with his framed uniform many in the stadium wiped away tears. David was one of our own and he will be forever. Rest in peace, friend.

Life can't be all roses and Sic 'Ems, to be sure. There is much work to be done at our university. However, do not let the joys of life and of this place pass you by. To use the words of former Baylor president Samuel Palmer Brooks, "hold them dear, cherish them, for they alone will sustain you in the end."

Thanks for reading and Sic 'Em Bears