Today, I graduate from college.
I don't have any spitfire criticisms of Bethel, its institution or professors. Every institution is flawed, and I appreciate something about every single professor I've had. I admire the people I've met, though I can count on one hand who I'll still talk with in 2017 and beyond.
It seems like yesterday I was up with the dawn, mulling through the grass along Lake Valentine, stealing some alone time as the cicadas hummed and sweat beading up on my forehead. Today, snow and subzero temps will wallop the Cities in a one-two punch.
Every time I have left something, there always seems to be a moment where I am walking alone, taking it all in. In those moments, I always feel alone, way more alone than the beginnings that led to them. Like I have been at a crowded party, so many things have happened, and I have finally exited out the backdoor into the night sky.
In those moments, I feel something like God's presence, except at first it only feels like absence. Alone, I wonder if my messes have mattered, if my work will last, if my love has grown. Alone, I begin to wonder how much I believe in a force that works all things out for the good of those called according to its purpose.
After finishing my last exam earlier this week, I tied up some loose ends, shuttling through a crowded commons, yet somehow quite alone. And alone, I felt something like God's presence, except at first it felt like a stinging absence.
Snapshot memories flooded my mind-- walking Valentine in the pale moonlight after a first date, drinking coffee by the window of our box-elder infested dorm, the gulps of anxiety before all the presentations, the pneumonia that hospitalized me, the prayers I found myself praying-- and I wonder if the glorious mess mattered, if my work will last, and if my love has matured somehow.
And, alone, I wondered how much I believe in God who works all things out for good. And though I want to doubt it, it feels strangely harder. I can't explain the wonder and the beauty I've felt over 4 1/2 years, the crack of the baseball bat on Opening Day, the times I've been in my dorm split over laughing for silly reasons, the stupid grace I felt after I finally rode a strangers' horse (and crossed it off my bucket list), the mystery I felt when I first fell in love with my wife, the 25-page paper I wrote about laughter, how it salvaged my faith and how good it felt reading it aloud at a conference.
So as I walk across the stage today, it's easier to suspect that the road might twist and turn, but still takes me somewhere, that it defies efficiency but grows love, that my journey might break me open but Jesus is still making all things new.
photo: hangin' in the skyways with kase & our good friend abbie