Today, in the bright windy
beautiful day, under the
Redbud tree, I begin to
see how great joy
and great sorrow live
Today, in the bright windy
Okay, so a month later, I suppose I'd like to write a bit about college. I'm not sure what I want to say, or where I should start.
The first thing I want to talk about is trees. Six or eight months ago I realize that while I really loved trees, I didn't know much about them. I wouldn't have known an oak tree from a sycamore. I think that part of loving something or someone is naturally wanting to know about them. Tom tells me that N. T. Wright says "Knowing is a form of loving." So a little over a month ago I bought myself a "Field Guide to North American Trees." So, starting more or less from when I got here I've been learning the names of trees. One free afternoon, I set out to the lawn in front of my dorm to name trees. Finding sugar maples, paper birches, ginkgo's, and oaks - I was surprised by how almost instantaneously my love for trees grew! Weeks later, I notice immediately the shape and size of each tree's leaf, the type of bark it has, what fruit or flower grows on it. It's wonderful. Soon I began to notice just how much diversity in the trees there was! The front lawn of Blanchard Hall, one the academic buildings, is like a miniature arboretum. There is a bald cypress that has no business being there, but there it is! I begin to really love trees.
I am constantly surprised by the capacity people have to matter to me. That the new people I am starting to know and live with can be important to me, the friends I'm starting to make . . . I begin to love them a little bit. People who only weeks ago I had never met or imagined before, have meaning to me. I care about them.
I didn't really consider how I would relate to my professors. But I find myself seeking their approval, especially my philosophy prof. Somehow, I suppose, I imagine if he thinks I'm bright or quick-headed then I will have confirmation that I matter, or can do well in philosophy. It's true that his approval would say something about my ability, but I seek it as some kind of affirmation of my person, that I'm worth something. It can prevent me from engaging well in class, and from humblly learning. I'm not here in this class, in Philosophy 101 to sound smart or be affirmed, but to learn. I'm here to be humbled, to be built up, to be challenged - Oh! and I am! I am being challenged. It is far better than a professor just thinking I'm intelligent and not forcing me to grow. I'm very grateful for classes, and I really love learning.
I deleted this post by accident. So I'm posting it here again because I'd like to be able to find it.
Saturday, August 25th
Written in orientation session "Your calling as a student"
I'm so glad to be here! I want to use my time well. I see this time stretched out before me, and I'm excited for it!
I do not want to waste my time, or talents. I'm excited to get to know people, to encourage other students and learn from them.
To be frank, I really don't want to be influenced by the ironic and sarcastic coolness of some Wheaton students. I want to be genuine - and straightforward.
Risk to let yourself be known.
Risk in academics - Sin boldly!
I want to grow my relationship with Tom, I want to be genuine with him, and love him well . . . And I feel like I can really use a friend like him.
Thursday, August 30th
-Oh! I've waited too long! I want to share a little of my college experience with you few readers of my blog (and I love you so). But it is passing already. Second day of classes today. I had Philosophy 101 with Dr. Benson, which was phenomenal! I am so pumped for this class! I'm afraid to be "that guy" in my philosophy class. I'm still wanting to learn to be quiet. My excitement for the subject makes me want to talk a lot, but I'm learning (this has been an intentional project of mine for some time) to keep more of my thoughts to myself - to use discernment for when what I have to say would be most helpful.
I'm really looking forward to getting to know the guys on my floor - we're of all sorts! I'm very grateful for Corin, the "CLC" (something, something, council) on the floor. He's the most genuine, inviting, warm person I've met here - he welcomed me in, and best of all I believed him.
The leadership of Corin, Ben Fasano (our RA), and the returning sophomores is so encouraging! And their almost obsessive focus on openness is so refreshing! - And it is full of life! Ben said something the other night at our all floor meeting . . . to live in the fullness of life. - I see in them the desire of my own heart (in the spirit) to be wide awake, striving after righteousness, to live in the fullness of the resurrection now, in this life.
"And so I would like to be a true
human being, dear reader - a choice
not altogether possible now.
But that is what I'm for, the side
I see in them, and in this school's heart the solid rock of the truth (pursued by faulty, sinful human beings - I mean that more than just as a "christianiese" qualifier, but as essential to the idea) - the truth being preached back to me. - Sometimes it flows through me, enters me as subjectively true. Other times I only beat up against it, too consumed by worries, or tiredness, or sinfulness to let it enter me - but there it is anyway. The Truth; A resistant reality. (And he that has ears to hear, let him hear)
I'm grateful that God has put me here.
I want to write about the people at L'abri: my friends.
Living with these darling people showed me that new people could become truly valuable to me. That my sense of belonging, of who may be a part of my life and whose life I could be a part of, was too small! They showed me love and friendship, understanding and sympathy. I listened to them share their lives and thoughts and shared myself with them. I laughed and (yes!) cried a little, we argued and made it up. And, when I was poor in spirit, they held me, both literally and metaphorically. We opened ourselves a little bit to one another, as the time would permit. We were a little naked, and we covered each other with love and forgiveness.
Yesterday I went to my friend Liz's graduation party with Katie. Hayley, Lilly, and I went for a walk together and talked happily.
Later, Liz and I walked through a field with funny grass and she gave me her friendship, and listened to me when I needed someone to listen, or to sit and enter into my sadness.
Today I worked for my uncle in the early morning, and afterwards I went to Christ the King church in Cambridge. I hoped a little that I might see some L'abri people there (we had gone there together before). Half way through the worship I had given up or forgotten about it when Drew slapped me on the shoulders from behind. I turned around and smiled and he hugged me in his boisterous way!
I sat with Drew and the others: Lilly (a different Lilly), Calvin, Emily. I felt lavished upon, and overwhelmed with affection.
Love. I am being so incredibly loved!
By a dear friend, with a patient, painful, loving silence. A difficult love, thick with integrity.
By friends touching me and willing to let me know I fit.
By Liz meeting me and saying what she can.
By God, reaching out in all these people, shouting "Here I am!" And I, "How great thou art!"
The sermon was on "Love hopes all things." What is my hope in?
In God's goodness, guiding my life. (Surely goodness will follow me in the house of God forever. . .)
A tenacious friendship, a shared brotherhood of love, united in the truth.
To be rich and full of life, to give and be loving and a light to other people, warming them.
Walking to the store I read a Wendell Berry poem and felt poured into, not catching much of the meaning, I drank in the "meditation in the spring rain" like unlooked for refreshment, too surprised to be greedy. The next one would be greedy. To show forth life I need to be filled up with life - life given by other men, by God.
Sitting on this old roof
with wind chines behind me
and a bird in a tree before me
With the wind at my back
I imagine I am in the
absolute quiet of a mountaintop.
I can hear the cars
far below me, like ants
racing to and fro
To my right and left,
before and behind, there
are other mountain-roof-tops
with newly blossomed trees
stretched out between
us all, like clouds
obscuring our foothills.