It was a harried and anxious woman who flew out of XNA airport on Thursday morning. No fewer than 18 lists filled sticky notes on my MacBook's desktop. With the show happening this week, going away for a weekend was poor timing, but Robb was class president of his college class and a 15 year reunion just seemed like something he ought to attend. It had been 10 years since we were on campus, but I suspect all the ways we have changed in the last 6 years really made it seem like longer. We kept trying to find a word to describe how we were feeling about going back, but nervous wasn't quite right.
Some of my readers knew me then. Some of my readers know what it was like to attend a Bible college. It would take a book to fully describe it. I suggest Kevin Roose's Unlikely Disciple (which left me howling in helpless laughter). Ours were even stricter rules than those wild students at Liberty University. Curfew at 10 on school nights, midnight on the weekend. Lights out for freshman at 11:30. Freshman couldn't go on single dates. I wore a skirt or dress to class, guys wore dress pants and collared shirts. Upperclassman had to wear a jacket and tie. We attended chapel every day and church on Sunday morning and evening and prayer meetings on Wednesday night. We were required to be active in some form of ministry service and to share our faith for a certain number of hours. We were required three one credit classes in sharing our faith, in fact, which is money I would really like to have back, please and thank you. You had to have your room clean by chapel time (10 am) and your bathroom clean by the end of the day. You could not hold your boyfriend's hand on campus or kiss or any other form of public display of affection. Guys hair had to be short, above the ears, and thy could not wear facial hair. We couldn't attend movies and smoking or alcohol was a clear no-no. Some offenses resulted in fines. Some of the biggies would have meant expulsion. Most of the rules I kept faithfully. Several, I broke egregiously.
I suspect that going back was odd because Robb wears an earring and a tattoo. He is outwardly branded with a different kind of Christianity than we were taught there. We are no longer subscribers to our denominational teaching. No longer "in the fold." We went beyond what we were taught. Planted a church that values much different things than we were taught to value. In short, we break a lot of the rules.
But things change. Even when they stay the same. The rules at BBC are no longer the same. The students wear jeans to class. They boys have facial hair. The girls are allowed to be security guards. And most of the students don't come from The Denomination anymore. You think, driving on campus, that you will be going back in time. But you aren't. Kids are standing around with cell phones, and even if the dorm smells the same, now the lounge has an actual television in it.
I don't exactly know what I'm trying to say with this post, only maybe, that we thought we might be going back to visit as prodigals, and discovered instead, that we were products of our school. That we felt at home there with people we loved then and still love now. That without our time on that beautiful old campus...(which used to be a monastery) we would not be who we are now. It was a precious gift to go back, to remember. To think again on all the ways that God guided us. It deepened our faith and our confidence in what we are doing with our lives, and why we get up in the morning. It was good for our souls. It was sweet to go home.