Matt Razek described pivotal moments from his life in an Agape Latte event on Tuesday, sharing how seemingly small and ordinary occurrences in peoples’ lives can have extraordinary significance.
“[They] are actually extraordinary when we truly allow ourselves to dive deeper and to pay attention to some of the joys and the gifts that other people bring to us,” Razek said. “My faith guides me, and it’s extraordinary what it’s done for me and how it has helped me in the journey I’ve been on.”
Razek, the associate director for student programming in Boston College’s Office of Student Involvement, spoke in Hillside Cafe during the latest installment of the Church in the 21st Century Center’s faith-focused lecture series.
Razek opened his talk explaining how his high school Greek teacher—Greg “Doc” Knittel—impacted him through the life lessons he incorporated in his class. When Razek learned Knittel had been diagnosed with ALS and he could no longer teach, he and his friends would visit him every Saturday.
“The middle of his living room on Southland Ave became a beacon of education for me,” Razek said. “Doc would greet us with a smile, mouth hello with our names, and we would just dive into conversation with him—conversations on our hopes for the future, his hopes for the future, and his hopes for us.”
Razek said that during one of his last visits, Knittel’s wife gave him a tie that represented how Knittel perceived Razek and his personality. This gift helped Razek hold on to his memory of Knittel, he said.
“Every day, when I wake up, I open my closet and look at the tie as a reminder of the hope to keep on going, as a reminder of the love that’s in the world, and as a reminder of the sign and symbol of someone who had continued to fight and who had continued to go on finding ways to find the extraordinary in the ordinary,” Razek said.
Razek then steered the conversation toward another important aspect of his life: running. According to Razek, he was invited to participate in multiple marathons as his running improved but always felt he was not ready. One of his friends, however, urged him to believe in himself.
“At that moment, it clicked,” Razek said. “This was Doc talking to me through other people about having this ‘never give up, believe in yourself’ mentality. And I felt that Doc and God were trying to do something there.”
Razek said this motivated him to sign up for a half-marathon. Although he said the training process was painful, Razek realized the pain felt good, as it meant he was putting in his best effort. He also linked this pain to the saying Ad maiorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.”
“It’s supposed to mean that you’re putting in all of your effort … and this is your best foot forward,” Razek said. “For me, it’s a reminder that I’m not alone, and that gave me the boost of energy I needed in tough moments.”
Though Razek said he was nervous before his first full marathon, his family was there to support him. This feeling of community embodied the joy offered by the Holy Spirit, as former BC theology professor Rev. Michael Himes described, according to Razek.
“It offered an opportunity to be with others in the community, to motivate me to choose to run the Boston Marathon, and [try] to build onto that same joy that Father Himes talks about,” Razek said.
Razek concluded his talk expressing his hope that students would find the small but extraordinary moments in their own lives.
“It’s these extraordinary moments for me—whether it’s a tie from a mentor, whether it’s running in community with others—that truly pushes me and encourages me to go on,” Razek said. “Being able to learn alongside each of you are some of these extraordinary moments as well.”