I wish I’d understood them better


You know you’ve missed me.

I’m not currently writing as much here as I used to, or as much as I want to.

Don’t judge. How much are you writing?

The wife and I are freshly returned from a weekend at our Alma Mater, Asbury University. I say freshly even though the loss of an hour’s sleep on Saturday night took its toll.

My wife currently serves on the Alumni Board. I did my own term on the Board back in the oughts. I was fortunate enough to serve as an officer so I got a full seven years of returning to campus at least twice a year.

This past weekend, however, was the first time in some thirty years or more that I was on campus with no responsibilities. I got to attend as a spouse, not as a Board member or as a class leader at reunion time.

It was great to walk around campus, even in the not best of weather and just let some memories soak in.

On Saturday, whilst the Board was finishing up business, I embarked upon some errands. Costume searching to be exact. I came up empty-handed. Let’s just say finding 1970s style clothing in my size is a bit of a challenge. Truth is, I wore flannel shirts and jeans through most of the 70s, but that’s not what my director and costume designer are looking for.

I digress.

Anyway, I was heading to a neighboring city to check out a thrift store. I took one of the back roads. It’s familiar and I still know the way.

My route took me by the city cemetery. I have a strange relationship with cemeteries. When I visit my home town I have a sense of guilt for not always stopping at my father’s grave. I know he’s not there, and no, I don’t always stop.

As I passed the Wilmore cemetery I thought of my class advisors. Dr. Howell passed away my senior year. His wife, some years later. Then I thought of others who have gone on. People who, when I was in college, were not much older than I am now.

I got a little misty-eyed because I realized, as I think I’ve always known, that these people gave their lives to speak into the lives of students. Through instruction, though counsel, through prayer, through just being there when the times were rough.

And, I found myself regretting that I had not done more to realize that, to appreciate that when I was actually a student.

I mean, I wish I’d realized that they were far much more than nice people saying nice things. In some ways I did listen. But in many more ways it took me years to understand what they were saying.

Perhaps like Martha who was trying to care for Jesus while her sister Mary was listening, I was busy with many things.

With age comes wisdom, and now I cherish the memories of those people who meant so much to me during my college years. I just wish I’d had the sense to really listen. To really understand and soak in the message of what they were trying to tell me.

Would it have changed my life? Would it have helped me to avoid some of the pitfalls and stupid things I’ve done over the years?



That’s all speculation.

But, I’m glad they were there.

And the older I get (sigh) the more I appreciate how they genuinely cared for students. How they genuinely cared for me.

I was glad to hear and to see that there are relationships like that continuing. That there are individuals there still committed to speaking into the lives of students.

The writer of Hebrews referred to a “great cloud of witnesses” and said “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” [Hebrews 12:1. Read the whole chapter, it will do you good.]

I’m still running the race. Or walking, I don’t really run. And, these days, thanks to the current unpleasantness with the back (what’s up with that?), I’m limping.

But, no matter how slowly, the farther I go I’m increasingly thankful for those who have gone before.


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