Photo Courtesy of A. D. (2019)

A couple weeks ago, my french friend Annelies gave me the tallest and most beautiful sunflower I have ever seen. Before I knew it was mine, my heart locked eyes with it, standing on its own spine, shining brightly in the corner of our favorite coffee shop. Something innately sparked within my heart. There are so many layers in this simple symbol.



I’ve been interconnected with Notre Dame since I received that acceptance letter in the mail Spring of 2000. I came into Notre Dame a very quiet girl, not confident or secure in her identity. I learned very early on that I was a strong, outspoken, revolutionary waiting to find her wings. Ask any teacher that may have taught me, I didn’t leave the same way I came! There was a fire in my bones that fueled me long after my graduation from high school.

I returned to my old stomping grounds August 2011, when I came in as a dance teacher. That humble beginning was a start to a program developing, curriculum writing, renaissance of art making justice advocates, that still have my heart after all these years. I found that the same principles of advocacy and compassion I honed as a student at Notre Dame, gave me the tenacity and boldness to create change in my environment as a member of the Notre Dame faculty. To a fault, I often was 10 steps ahead, pressing toward the potential of all that this unique and peculiar place had to offer. The minds of each student were my currency, as I knew the return on my investment was a world filled with more game-changers and passionate players. In our broken world, there is too much focus on the sun splintered ground, and not enough focus on the seeds that have burst from the ashes. As one ND seed to a waterer of other ND seeds, I am forever grateful to be a Notre Dame sunflower. My arms are open to embrace the light of the sun, in community with the world around me. My spine is strong and steady, ready to endure the winds and rains of life’s challenges. My seeds of wisdom and innovation are innumerable and are cast with every encounter I meet. I may wilt under pressure, but inevitably will return back to my source of life.

Here we are… reflecting on the wreckage of the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral. I know I am not alone in the mourning of such an iconic symbol of life and love. Even still I remain confident, that the same spirit that fortifies us together is what makes us the resilient revolutionists that we are. It’s important in these moments to remember that the building (as immaculate as it may be) is only an image of the power and beauty that we house within us. Without us, the building is a bag of stones. This is where I find my confidence. WE are the strength and resilience of Notre Dame. And just like the sunflower, we will shine brightly amidst the storms.

Annelies has a love for my baby
that rivals anyone I know!
They’re best friends.

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