03 April 2009

The Third Post About Fearing Graduation

I still have to go to the bathroom.

It was the only thing I could think as I ran, yet again, between buildings on campus yesterday.  It was the 2nd annual Division of Christian Life and Thought year-end get together and potluck extravaganza extraordinaire, and in fine Biblical and Theological Studies Organization form, we had completely forgotten to do anything to plan for it until three days prior.  

My day started at 7:30 when I woke up for my Jewish Background class.
Then a run to the grocery store with Heather.
Then Eastern Theological Tradition and getting back a test that I thought I hadn't done well on, an assertion that the professor unfortunately agreed with.
Then running over to the Seminary with Josh to try to set things up, only to find that Seminarians were still using the room we'd reserved.
Then a run back to my apartment to email the professors reminding them to ask their students to come and message everyone attending the event on Facebook to remind them to be there.
Then back to the Seminary to actually set up.
Then Orchestra.
Then back to the Seminary for the dinner.

At some point in the middle of all of that, basic bodily functions just took a back seat.  And so, as I ran between Hanson Hall and the Seminary building, my fingers still tinging from playing my cello, I saw  Heather waiting on a bench outside of the Seminary building.  She looked up at me as I ran towards the door.  "Oh good, you're here."
"Is everything going okay?" I asked, imagining a crisis of grand proportions involving Bible and Youth Ministry students, flying hummus, and professors hiding under tables.
"Yeah, everything's fine, there are just too many people in there for me."

Too many people?  When we set up earlier in the day with five tables, I didn't think they'd be filled.  We walked into Olsson Lounge and were greeted by about twice as many people as I thought would attend, all standing in groups chatting about classes and staring longingly at the food-laden buffet table.  I stood for a minute as more students entered the room, completely shocked at the number of people who I didn't think would be there. 

My success was short lived as I realized I still had to put some chili on the stove and uncover all of the food people had brought.  I unloaded the bag I'd left under a side table and headed to the kitchen, answering questions from Josh, Matt, Dr. Willitts, Dr. Veeneman and Dr. Johnson on the way, and giving instructions to Heather on what to do with the chili while on my way to reorganize the food table.  Dr. Willitts followed me, asking questions that have now been lost to time and memory lapse.  After dumping a bag of shredded cheese into a bowl near where the chili would sit, I stopped over to talk to Dr. Veeneman and get caught up on how everyone was doing while waiting for the dinner to begin.  Another quick trip in to check on Heather and tell her the chili could sit and simmer while we did introductions, and then into the main room to get everyone seated, make introductions of the BTSO officers, and play a "get to know you" game on the request of Dr. Johnson.  By the time we had figured out that it was Dr. Willitts who'd received $3,000 for participating in a pharmaceutical drug trial during grad school, I realized that the chili was probably burning and ran back into the kitchen to revive it.  Dinner followed, accompanied by a scandalous uprising because I'd forgotten to pray before I let people eat, and then it was time for the seniors to share their words of wisdom.  

I was the fourth to speak, and as I stood up, I had a flashback to doing this same thing four years ago in Concert Band.  Gosh, wasn't that just yesterday?  I thought as I nervously straightened the bottom of my shirt.   I shifted my weight to the balls of my feet.  Well gosh, what do I say now?  I took a breath.  "Well, first off, I'm really sorry about the not praying thing..."  Everyone laughed.  I babbled and generally tripped over my words.  I used my hands way too much.  I said things like "take advantage of your professors" when I really meant to say how they're a good resource, not to imply that we should hustle them out of money.  I got choked up when I told everyone how I sign all of my emails with "Pax Christi" but I never feel like I have to when I email Dr. Nassif because he already shows the peace of Christ so much.  I cried when I mentioned how the two people who were responsible for me being in the department weren't at the University anymore.  

Later, Dr. Johnson had the seniors kneel in the middle of the room while the underclassmen did a laying on of hands and the professors prayed for us.  Then he sang us the Aaronic Benediction, his voice rising and falling, making Hebrew sounds more complex than anything in English with words more meaningful than any dictionary could explain.  We stood to receive hugs from melancholy juniors upset at losing their older friends to grad schools and seminaries and Alaska in a month.  Josh, the President-elect of the BTSO and co-founder along with me, gave me a hug.  "You were my first BTS friend,"  he said, backing up and meeting my eyes, "You made me want to be smart."  My eyes filled with tears as my stomach dropped and my mouth opened in stunned silence.  Josh?  The one who did way better on me in that Eastern Theological Traditions test, who could pulverize me in theology or philosophy or Greek any day of the week and twice on Sundays?  I made him want to be smart?  

A tear spilled over my cheek as Dr. Willitts approached the group, "Hey, do you need any help cleaning up?  What do you want us to do with this food?"  I wiped it off and turned to him with a smile.  "Um, well we can probably just shake out the tablecloths and use them next year...."  

It was back to work.  Unfortunately for me, the bathroom was a still-distant dream.

No comments: