When was the last time you cried tears of joy?
The last time I remember crying tears of joy was not that long ago. I recently took our 17-year-old son, a junior in HS, to his very first away from home campus visit. The college we visited was my alma mater, Wheaton College in Wheaton , Illinois. In fact, my husband, his father, and I all graduated from this college so our son would be a third generation student there. It is a liberal arts Christian college that is highly selective and has an excellent reputation as not only an educational institution but also as a Conservatory of Music.
I dropped my son off with his campus host and then wandered off to stroll down memory lane. I visited several buildings that held very dear memories — my first dorm room there (in Smith Hall), the main stairway of the oldest building on campus (Blanchard Hall) where I had my last class ever before graduation there as well as one of my very favorite classes ever, the Conservatory building where I spent many, many hours practicing/studying/going to classes, and finally Pierce Chapel where the women’s choir rehearsed.
I was extremely surprised and excited to see my “old” choir director, Dr. Mary Hopper, there in the Pierce Chapel rehearsal space getting things set up to do a clinic with a visiting HS women’s choir. She gave me a quick hug and a hello, and we shared a few speedy reminiscences. I exclaimed over how much more beautiful the space is now than it was when I was a student there. The stage had been refurbished with a new floor, new paint, new stage curtains, new risers, etc. It looked fabulous.
In a few minutes a large group of young women arrived. As they started to sing a round for their warmup (Jubilate Deo by Praetorius) tears started to fill my eyes. Memories came flooding back of the hours I spent singing in that space with the wonderful women in Women’s Chorale with our very talented director. My mind filled with memories of concerts, Christmas Festivals, of tours throughout many US states, one overseas tour in several European countries, memories of songs and emotions, and of the SOUND of women’s voices singing beautifully together.
I listened and enjoyed the lovely music and memories.
More tears of joy flowed just a little later that day.
As a Christian college, Wheaton has always had required chapel attendance on certain days of the week. The whole student body gathers in Edman Chapel. On this campus connection day, we heard from a very special guest — the author of a new book about C.S. Lewis — Alister McGrath. http://alistermcgrath.weebly.com/
As the students stood for the invocation (and again for the benediction) tears sprang to my eyes. Again, I was reminded of many exceptional speakers, singing hymns (with a pipe organ and 2000 people who can sing!), and of many concerts sung in that lovely chapel. I remembered the very first time I walked into Edman Chapel. I had a very strong feeling that this was where I belonged. I very strong sense of “home.”
This day happened to be the day my family had to make a huge decision about whether or not to accept a new job offer that would cause us to move across the state to a new city after living in the same place for 17 years. I believe that being in this place on this day helped me immensely with this decision. I felt the presence of God here as a student and I felt it again there this day as an adult, a mother, an alumnae. I was reminded of the very strong foundation of faith, learning and personal growth I acquired not only at Wheaton but in every stage and in every major decision in my live. I walked by faith then, and I still do.
The tears helped me remember that.
Jubilate deo. Sing Joy to God! Amen.
Aside: Wheaton College is home to the Wade Collection. http://www.wheaton.edu/wadecenter/Welcome/Museum Permanent pieces on display in the museum include: a wardrobe owned by C.S. Lewis, desks and pens belonging to C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, bookshelves from Charles Williams, the eyeglasses of Dorothy L. Sayers, and Owen Barfield‘s chess set and pipe.
My son now thinks everyone at Wheaton is obsessed with C.S. Lewis because of the Wade Collection museum, the chapel speaker, and my fascination with Lewis’s writings. Oh, well.
Writing this reminded me of a few other very memorable events with tears of joy. I will write about those soon.