There is a lovely sort of bliss we are afforded when we can ease into the conclusion of seasons.
The subtle changes that draw the end closer allow us to slow down and appreciate the passing of time, the little blessings of life. But we are not always granted this gift. Some endings come abruptly, and without allowing us much of an opportunity to adjust to the new or say goodbye in the ways we envisioned.
As a senior at OKWU, it has been a difficult task trying to reconcile the fact that my journey as a student would be concluded from a distance. I love OKWU in the spring; everyone emerges from their winter hibernation ready to play campus golf or throw a frisbee in front of Docs. Someone takes a notorious leap into the pond, and upon resurfacing is greeted by cheers and laughter. The warm weather renews our spirits, and most nights end sitting by the pond with dear friends, watching the sun set behind the mansion.
These are just a few of the things I grieved over in the days following the decision to close the campus for the semester. Then I paused.
“My prayer during this season has continually been: ‘Lord teach my heart to be keenly aware of the fragility and resilience of life, so that I might have a more tender appreciation for it in every season through which I walk.'”
I thought about all of my peers who had themselves experienced some sort of loss: some of my friends had wedding plans that would need to be altered or completely changed; some had to deal with the stress of clinicals and student teaching in a way they had not prepared for; some had loved ones at home who were at greater risk of getting sick.
I’m always reminded of God’s innate ability to reveal certain truths to us in the wake of experiences that seem completely irredeemable; he reminds us of the simple cornerstones of life: our love for others, or the quiet moments we spend in wonder of His creation. He prompts our spirits to look outside of our own situations and truly see other people.
In this season, everyone has something which they are mourning, and so as a community, we struggle together – from a distance. I have seen and experienced a keener sensitivity and intentionality about offering words of encouragement and recognizing the difficult adjustments this change has brought. We have the choice of allowing this grief to make us bitter, closing us off from others, or to let it expand the walls of our hearts to a capacity which we didn’t know we were capable of.
And I truly believe that I and so many others have been able to navigate this unique chapter of life with much more ease because we are walking through it with our OKWU community, which is rooted in the sovereignty of God and the hope and faith that He is working all things together for His good.
Without minimizing the hardships that people are encountering – the economic instability, the worry for loved ones and our essential workers – we must be able to recognize the unexpected blessings that have shown through the cracks left by COVID-19. In a culture that is driven by business, we have been forced to slow our lives and enter into a season of sabbath.
There are still so many blessings to be counted. I’m thankful that I live in a time in which I can FaceTime my friends. I’m thankful for my wonderful professors, who have sacrificed their Spring Break to prepare for online classes and make the transition easier. I’m thankful for Dr. Fisher and her weekly ladies Bible study. The opportunity to pray and grow with some of my favorite women is something I look forward to each week. I have found over and over again during this season that relationships are not easily extinguished, especially relationships that are grounded in the hope of Jesus Christ. When we begin to feel shaken by the worries and anxieties of life, the still small voice of the Father whispers hope to us, whether through the gentle word of a friend or through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
“I’m always reminded of God’s innate ability to reveal certain truths to us in the wake of experiences that seem completely irredeemable; he reminds us of the simple cornerstones of life: our love for others, or the quiet moments we spend in wonder of His creation. He prompts our spirits to look outside of our own situations and truly see other people.”
In these moments of chaos and uncertainty, we must tune our hearts even more to the goodness of God. My prayer during this season has continually been: “Lord teach my heart to be keenly aware of the fragility and resilience of life, so that I might have a more tender appreciation for it in every season through which I walk.” I have allowed myself the space to mourn the loss of time with the people I love in the place I love, but the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, and whatever time I have been blessed with at OKWU I will treasure in my heart.
I love my school, and over the past three years it has grown to be more than a school: it’s a family. Words do not go nearly far enough to express how thankful I am for the staff, faculty, and peers that have continually poured into my life from the moment I decided to attend OKWU. The journey has been beautiful, and it has prepared me in innumerable ways for what lies ahead.