The reason Beve and I uprooted our children from their very settled, contented lives out on the Olympic Penninsula 15 years ago was so that I could attend Regent College in Vancouver, BC. It didn't initially sit well with me that I would be the uprooting agent, I who was the at-home parent, the one they were accustomed to seeing every day when they got up in the morning and off the bus in the afternoon. But God made it clear and Beve and then an increasing number of people began to see that this move was good and right. So we packed up our home, our children, stuffed our cars and drove into an unknown future.
The immediate future (namely that first summer) included no job, no home for us to drive to when we left Sequim. A wing of an acceptance letter and accompanying financial aid and the prayer for all those things we'd need to land were all we had. During that summer we faced Beve's sister needing a kidney transplant (and his brother coming from Finland to donate it) and the many weeks we spent caring for both of them and her then-five-year-old son. The living out of suitcases from one end of the state to the other. A road trip/camping trip for my fortieth birthday (with that unknown future still looming, why not play?).
But God sent Beve to the right job, gave us the right house in the nick of time.
And then my father died, in the very last of the unsettled things of that long unsettled summer.
And then I began my studies for a Masters in Christian Studies at Regent College.
Those years I studied at Regent were the best years academically I've ever had. The courses were challenging, the professors were profoundly wise, the students were interested in pursuing excellence. The conversations in and out of class were rich. The fellowship was full and as close to like-minded as I'll get on this earth, I suppose. We came from all over the world, were diverse of culture, economics, education and ethnicity. And it didn't matter a whit when we gathered each Tuesday to worship. And afterwards to break bread with our soup. To eat and talk and be the Body of Christ that was Regent.
I spent three years taking classes there. Another 18 months writing the novel that would be my Arts Thesis. For those three years I drove to Vancouver from my home north of Bellingham, WA three days a week. Battled the border, Highway 99, the tunnel, the bridges, the maze of streets that made up my commute to The University of British Columbia where right across the street sits the tiny oasis of Regent College.
I'd park my car at the church that given weekly rights to Regent students (for a fat fee!), tromped down the hill and find my academic home under the green roof of Regent College.
It was an inspired time for me. A time out of time. I don't know what that first year after my dad's death would have been like without Regent. I remember sitting in a seminar, and having the professor even cry with me. That professor NEVER cries, I have long since learned. But he did that day. And it cemented a friendship I will cherish into heaven. Of all the amazing professors from that amazing time--J I Packer, Gordon Fee, Eugene Peterson, James Houston, to name a few--he's the one most significant. Loren Wilkinson.
I'm thinking of my Regent years today, and the great privilege of being able to simply say I studied there, let alone have a Masters in Christian Studies, because the girls and I went to Vancouver yesterday. We didn't actually go to Regent, sadly, though by my own choice. By the time we finished wandering Granville Island, the day was late and I knew the traffic would be terrible through the tunnel, even with the counter-flow lane. Still. It was sweet to be there. Familiar, like a trip down memory lane simply to be on those streets where people speed up when green lights begin flashing and positively race when they turn to yellow. Honk and the silly Americans for slowing instead. Yep, it all took me back to when I was so thinking a whole lot, I could barely concentrate on the road (though I'm still hardly better). But then I was immersed in the spiritual. Surrounded by people thinking, studying, conversing about eternal things. Talking Jesus all day long. Being stretched to heaven.
Becoming more me on this planet than anywhere else has ever made me. That Master's Degree reminds me of the incredible gift of Regent just when it was most necessary. Thank God. I'd do it again in a heart beat. There aren't many things I'd say that about in my life--do-overs because they were so brilliant and wonderful. But really, IN A HEARTBEAT. Just ask me. Or...show me the money. There are more classes out there.
If you're ever in the neighborhood. or feel like moving to this neck of the woods to study, there's no place better.