Some places only have character because of memory. This street, for one. It’s the primary thoroughfare for students between campus and the rest of the town.
Rather than ride a bus and attend a “normal” high school, I attended a boarding high school where teens were prepared to attend a ministerial college. College graduates and seminarians were obligated to watch over us in the dorms, cell-like structures as old as my parents and older.
I should know: my parents met here.
Some buildings have been left untouched. The auditorium, for one, an important place: it is where my mother practiced music, where my father performed on stage. Where I did both.
Some spaces have changed. This new dorm was built on the only open green space on campus. Yes, I’m still miffed about that. It’s only been sixteen years…
At least the little things still thrive. This fruit tree, for one.
Crab apple? I honestly don’t think of the fruit much. It’s the blossoms I adored every spring. Each morning on the walk to the first mandatory chapel service of the day (for day must begin and end with Christ) we went by this tree. The petals are only waking up now, thanks to Wisconsin’s wonky spring temperament. One can never predict when the blossoms will peak, but I remember walks past that tree when the petals rained down as the organ marched off another hymn, calling His Disciples forth to be counted. I often tuned the organ out to watch the petals dance to their own song, one only they could hear in the breeze from heaven. It was always a beautiful melody. It must have been, the way they swirled about before laying spent on the sidewalk and trod under our feet.
One day, I don’t know when, I stopped following the march. Oh, my body went along, sure, but my soul stayed behind with the petals. We sang “Here I am, Lord,” and I felt myself a liar, for I knew I was no longer among The Counted. As every pew creaked with our five-hundred-strong bow for silent prayer, I asked God if it was okay.
Please, God, let it be okay.
I turn to leave the campus. My boys will be done with school soon. Still, I can’t help but pause by the blooms:
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)
Hope fills me as my fingers grace the branches, the flowers.
Just before my enrollment, the school changed its mascot to a phoenix. I always found that a bit strange, choosing a mythical creature to represent God’s Followers, but then, the phoenix rises up from the ashes of its old life to live again, brighter and stronger than before. There is certainly a bit of Christ in that.
And, I’d like to think, in me, too.