What Cortina Was To Me: Querencia

Cortina is a loom, a framework holding loose threads together to weave into a fabric. In Cortina, I met different people bringing stories and ideas from around the world and around their hearts.  Cortina guided the shuttle that helped make those threads cross: service trips, time at Metro tutoring, conversations in the NZ at hours that can charitably be described as irresponsible. It flung my friends and I to protests and into the gritty reality, into contact with the real and the pure, into vulnerability.  We learned the stories of our neighbors, our sisters, and our selves.  Each invitation and opportunity helped make the fabric we work together stronger, seamless.  Each conversation, hug, tear — the words and punctuation of a story we are still writing.  They’re the rhythm to our perplexing dance.

My physical time in cortina is over now, but it is an indelible tattoo on my life.  Cortina was normalizing for me: it taught me that these strange ideas weren’t so strange.  That people are sacred, that love is the most powerful force in the universe, that stories are all that matter.  In the wildly tumultuous years of college, the warm embraces of friends’ words and arms made the journey down new roads holy and exhilarating. That doesn’t mean our journeys weren’t and aren’t scary.  But we know we don’t walk them alone.

In the end, Cortina’s lasting impact is the human fabric it helps weave.  My best friends came from those years, as did my first love.  Those people are sacred beyond words and are the true pages on which our stories are written. They are friends for life, friends who all tell each other “I love you” and mean it. In the time since Creighton, they are what gets me through the hardest challenge I’ve ever faced, depression. In this time, it is they who challenge me to do ordinary things extraordinarily.

The way we choose to make the threads of our lives cross shapes how we will go through life. The ties created there are sacred, unbreakable, and everlasting.  Those ties, paraphrasing the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, help us to see what is essential with the eyes of our hearts.  Those ties, to use a favorite phrase of Jon Cortina, help us put little feet to the gospel.

Buen Camino.

One word to describe my Cortina experience: Querencia.(the word querencia means a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn, a place in which we know exactly who we are, and from which we speak our deepest beliefs.)

-Tim Nendick, A Cortinian in 2009-2010, A Cortina RA from 2010-2012

tim picture

¡Buen Camino!: The Life of a Pilgrim

Those around me tell me that as a college graduate, I’m supposed to be preoccupied with my resumé, leveraging my education and diploma, getting ready for a career in my field and getting my life in order after the idyllic world of university.  Since I’m not working, I should be building valuable experience through a post-grad position or internship, applying for grad schools, and entering the ‘real world,’ wherever that is (I’ll let you know if I find it).  In truth, I’m not so good at this.  After all, “pilgrim” isn’t exactly a marketable identity unless you happen to be applying for a job whose perks include a roman collar. So why would someone like me choose to uproot themselves in such an important time, and take a little walk across an entire country?  Why be a pilgrim?

I could tell you about my story, share my camino, but I won’t.  The thing about adventures and stories is that they’re not something that you write about on a blog or shelve away in some special pictures that gather dust. They don’t sit quietly in you heart and you don’t just move from experience to experience, gaining merit badges to put on a social justice sash, “oh, I did Encuentro, and Cortina, and IFTJ and this is my ‘I talked to homeless people!’ patch!”

No, adventures aren’t to be read about. They are to be experienced. You’re on your own journey, and it is just as important.  Walk with me. Let the people and places and love and life that you know come to the surface. Remember what others have taught you and don’t forget their songs. They are sacred.

Fr. Gillick once told a group of us about to depart for the Dominican Republic that “Adventure is, by its nature, something that happens to other people.”  My favorite quote, by a Jesuit named Anthony de Mello, reads, “I used to be stone deaf. I would see people stand up and go through all kinds of gyrations. They called it dancing. It looked absurd to me — until one day I heard the music!”  The point: things that look absurd, like walking across all of Spain with a pack on your back, make sense if you hear the music.  The places and people and experiences you find by pushing yourself to be uncomfortable and meet the world and its brokenness and love will shape you beyond words.  You’ll become vulnerable.  You’ll be hurt.  But you’ll also come alive.  Your heart will be touched in a way that you can’t do anything but follow where it leads.  You just start putting foot in front of foot and pretty soon, you end up in places that you’d never imagine, like being chased by a bull down a street in Puente La Reina.  That’s a story, I suppose, for a different time, though I will tell you that if you get the opportunity to do such a thing, take it.

You have one life. One. It is a wild and precious thing; how you live that life, how you invest your love, is the most important question you can answer.  It is the only adequate response to the incredibly sacred and wordlessly special gift you’ve been given by being alive.  Pedro Arrupe writes that falling and staying in love will decide everything.  This is true beyond words; your task, as a Creighton student, as a Cortinian, is to let the world overwhelm you with its love.  To be touched by the real and the pure.  To listen to the voice of God alive and pulsing around you and within you. It’s to go places and try new things and discover yourself by discovering those around you.  You have an incredible set of gifts to give, and you will never know they exist within you until you find reason to share them.  It’s to let the world, love, and other people mission you.  To have your heart set on fire, and let that fire spread to the world.

So be a pilgrim. What, who is calling you?  Where do you feel your heart and soul longing to be? Find the things worth living for, the people who will touch your soul in a way you cannot escape.  Carry those people in your heart and your eyes, carry the grand spectacles you encounter in the world and in the world of your soul and let them pour from you.  Do things that make you uncomfortable, and bring others along. Go places for the simple reason that you desire to go there; find God and Love alive and let them be the most powerful forces in your life and the world.  Live as a prophet.  Live as yourself.  Live.  As some graffiti on the camino poignantly reads, love and live, dangerously.  ¡Buen Camino! -Tim

Tim Nendick is a 2012 graduate of Creighton University & former RA in the program.  He recently walked a month from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Muxía, Spain, completing a centuries old pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago.

 You can find his pictures here.

Manifesto:The Mad Graduate’s Liberation Front

Each day is an unrepeatable onceness.
Embrace each and feel the sun’s warmth on your face.
Walk barefoot down the mall and stop to talk to someone,
even if it means being late for whatever you’re going to.  
It’s not as important in the end.

Amble around, pensively.
Don’t know where you are going.
It makes it all the more exciting when you arrive.

Just put foot in front of foot and keep moving.

Don’t walk by the color purple or the blooming redbud.

Listen to the story they tell, and thank them for it.
Thank them, and share them, because others walk by them all the time.  

Be adventurous.

Try new things and go to new places.
Drive with the windows down and the music up. Sing along.
Welcome the sunrise from atop a hill with friends and a slowly cooking breakfast.

Don’t forget that you are alive.  
The steady drumming of your heartbeat always lies just beneath your skin.
Dance along with it.  

Be crazy.  
Be reckless.  
Do something which doesn’t make sense to anyone besides you.
Do that, and drag others along with you.  

Stand for something.  

Let your voice shake when you talk.
Find the sacred indignation and restless inside you, and don’t be afraid of them.
Feel the fire in your bones and share it.

Stand for something, but don’t stop there.

Listen to the little rumbles in your heart, because they are all you have.
You won’t know what they mean.
Listen to them anyway.  
Be a megaphone, amplify them into earthquakes. They are.

Start campfires and sit around and talk.

Go to sleep bone weary, but with a view.
And not before being enraptured by the stars and the sound of the wind through the cottonwoods.

Behold God, beholding you, and smiling!
See the light in others, and acknowledge it in yourself.

Let it shine.  It will regardless.

Walk around with a full moon in each eye,

with an open embrace and with a joy in your step.  
Allow others to do the same by your presence.   
Each person is a walking invitation.  Accept them.

Some things will scare you to your core.  

Do them anyway.
Do them first.
They’re the things that matter.

Because you’ll never know everything.  

You will, however, know enough.  

So don’t be afraid to admit what your friends mean to you.  

You have scant enough time to realize just how important they are.  
You have even less time to tell them.

So do.

Friends, what I am saying is this:

Be reckless.

Fall in love.


Practice Resurrection.