I’m done with college. Graduation is not for another week, but my work here is finished.
I couldn’t have done it without Mike, either. I had three finals in a row, the last one being Renaissance Music. Mike studied for that test for three days while I studied for my other tests and then I crammed all his notes last night.
There’s plenty to reflect on about this chapter being ended, and maybe there will be time and place for that here later. But for now, I have to just thank God for his grace and mercy–so undeserved. I have a lot of regrets about this semester especially, but about all four years on some levels. This semester was characterized often by nothing short of rebellion. I didn’t want to work. The reason was, I was serving myself and not God, and that is cause for regret as well. But God’s mercy remains even at the last hour.
Last Sunday our choir sang in the Boe Chapel worship service. Ever since a debacle last fall, that has been one of the hardest things for me to do. Since that unfortunate fall experience, it feels like I’ve been spiritually dead when I’m at St. Olaf. That is never excusable, but I think I can link it to not wanting things precious to me to be trampled on. I found I could no longer worship under the scrutiny of even those who I’ve most appreciated at St. Olaf. The worship and devotion and allegiance I know seems to be something they don’t understand. Last fall proved it, and I clammed up.
After the benediction last Sunday we sang a parting verse of a hymn. If there’s anything the last year of music major at St. Olaf has taught me, lethargic and self-protective as I’ve been, it’s to go through the motions. The freshman who sang her heart out was the senior who mouthed words without noticing. Hypocrisy, this, and another regret. But Sunday I caught myself reverting to my old ways. I was invested, body and soul, in those words, and I was happy. Then I realized: “I’m free. I’m done there.”
This week has been full of hints that the soul is seeping back into me, so to speak. Today was no exception, and recognition of God’s mercy as I reflected on some enormous regrets this afternoon added to the effect. I want to be characterized as a worshiper again, not just on Sundays when it’s easy, but in the work I do each day.
We got home from the Renaissance Music test after a stop at the grocery store just in time to get doused by the first rain drops of an epic spring thunderstorm, which we listened to from our cozy apartment with the glass door to the deck wide open. I made real food for lunch (box mac n cheese and PBJ gets old) as I listened to Fernando Ortega:
fill the oak trees
swallows can’t stay still,
and in the glad commotion
Lord, you speak to me
If rain clouds come
or the cold winds blow
You’re the one
who goes before me
and in my heart I know
This good day
it is a gift from You
The world is turning in its place
because You made it to
I lift my voice
to sing a song of praise
on this good day
On one particularly bad day this week I stopped to find some sanity and beauty and communion with God. I found it in Andree Seu again:
A man in the Russian Gulag had had enough. He decided he’d carried his last stone from pile A to pile B for his tormentors in this Sisyphean farce. He laid himself down to await execution by shovel blade. Just then a fellow prisoner sidled up and, wordless, traced the shape of a cross in the dust; walked away. Alesandr Solzhenitsyn then gathered himself together and scooped up another rock–this time knowing why. The rest is history. “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” quoth Henry David Thoreau. But I know a better quote: Malcolm Muggeridge said the happiest person in the world is the woman who sweeps out her house to the glory of God….
Scene 1: Willy Loman, working for Willy Loman, walks in, stage right, carrying two large sample cases: The Death of A Salesman. Or imagine: Willy Loman, working for Jesus now, walks in, stage right, carrying two large sample cases: new play.
This I need to remember this summer as I set about life after college–the work I’ve been aching to get my hands on for the past two years. Besides all that work, there are a few things I’m looking forward to now that school is done:
- Long, leisurely devotions every morning
- Morning air and sky and birds and wet grass
- Leisurely travels with the love of my life
- Long walks
- Playing hymns on the piano
- Christian fellowship
- Chats with my siblings
- New recipes
- Toned muscles and vigor
- Silence–no more listening tests