The week has flown, and I haven't done justice to last weekend. So tonight I'm going to power through the more significant moments of Sunday with SK. That means I'm leaving out all of Saturday which was a lovely day. So just imagine laughter with SK, her roommates and their families while we ate barbequed chicken, roasted sweet potatoes and Beve's famous guacamole. And imagine an evening of Whitworth students strutting their stuff in the best possible sense across a stage, singing, laughing and entertaining their friends and family. SK, along with the improv troupe she's been in this year, were hilarious, and we were thrilled to see her perform one more time.
So that was Saturday in a nutshell.
But first, as is always my way, a backstory:
You know how there are people in your life who have changed you for good, and changed you forever? I have a few such people in my life. Some of them I've even known. More than once I've met a person through his or her writing and have been so impacted it's like I actually became friends with them. Years ago this happened. I met a pastor through his books (via a very good friend), then went to Regent College in no small part because of that man. At Regent that first fall, I remember one day in particular. Every person at Regent is put into a community group, like a small group in a church, and when I had a chance to look at the lists, taped to the cement wall, I finally found my name at the bottom of a list. But in the middle of that list was the name of this man. This theologian. Right in my community group. So for that year, that first year of seminary and first year after my dad died, I sat in the apartment of this man and his wife. We told our stories there and became friends. They gave our children signed copies of his books. A few years later, after they retired and moved away, we went to their lovely lakeside home in Montana.
And that's about the last time we saw them until Sunday morning at Whitworth's Baccalaureate service. My friend, who was my teacher, is also the grandfather of one of SK's classmates, so was invited to give the baccalaureate address. His grandson, who introduced him, said that sometimes he's struggled with the "So your grandpa wrote the Bible," comments he's gotten from classmates. This pastor (for that's what he always will be) spoke from the text of John 15, concentrating on the fact that John, a careful writer, used the word, "Friends" three times in the passage. I'd like to be able to tell you more completely what he said, but I can't. I was too pre-occupied by how like himself my friend sounded. The cadence of his words so familiar I got lost in them rather than listening for the content.
After the service, we raced over to SK's house to load the U-Haul. By the time we got the trailer loaded, the first raindrops had started falling, and by the time we got downtown to the Spokane Arena for graduation, it was POURING! Pouring, I tell you, and us with no coats. Dumb, dumb, dumb! Fortunately, the ceremony was indoors. It was quite the ceremony too. My sister, RE, and I had a chance to walk the arena a couple of times before SK walked across that stage. That's because she was the VERY LAST student to graduate. THE VERY LAST!!! Last student into the arena, last one across the stage, last student out. Beve and I really should have changed our name to Awiley. Or Bwiley? Anyone? But because she was last, she took the president by the hand and, along with the other graduates of the theatre department, they took a bow together. It was pretty sweet.
Then it was a sea of students, families, cameras, laughter and tears as we tried to find our SK. And...we neglected to take a single picture of her in her cap and gown. If that isn't the epitome of a youngest child, I don't know what is! Sigh. But it's a weekend we'll remember. It's written in me.
They do it well, that alma mater of SK's. Before they're through, those students have been prayed over, committed, praised, advised, sung to, laughed with, pomped and circumstanced the lights out. And, as we were reminded at every single event all weekend long, now they go out to, "Honor God, Follow Christ and Serve Humanity" (Whitworth's creed).
A pretty good way to live, if you ask me.