I had never lived in (or really even visited) a big city before I attended Wheaton College, located about 45 minutes outside of the “Windy City” of Chicago. In fact, I had never lived anywhere outside of Greenville, South Carolina, unless you count the first 2 years of life spent in Georgia. Since then, I have visited New York City, Philadelphia, and Dublin among others – and still Chicago welcomed me with its Midwestern familiarity while impressing me with its clean magnificence when I flew in last Friday with my college roommate, Katherine, to attend our 10 year college reunion.
The highlight by far was reuniting with my senior year housemates (all but one – we missed you, Sarah!). We shared our 4 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom on-campus house for a year full of laughter, tears, busting-at-the-seams house parties and senior-year-angst as we walked together through the questions of our future and the last months of our college-student-freedom. As we gathered in a hotel room near Wheaton on Friday night, it was as if nothing had changed and everything had changed as we caught up on the last decade. We have all walked through the valley of the shadow of death, some experiencing loss and grief so deep that it makes my heart hurt to think of what they have borne. We shed tears anew together. And we transitioned seamlessly into the joys of our lives, too: marriages, the birth of babies, graduate & medical degrees, participating in God’s kingdom work around the world, and finding new freedom that came as we emerged from the often “tumultuous twenties.” These 30-somethings (many of us moms who are early to bed most evenings) had so much to catch up on that we stayed up late into the night both evenings to try to fit it all in. Richly soul refreshing is the only phrase I know that could begin to describe our hours together.
Yet I was impressed with the way that the years really did “bring us together.” Unlike our time at Wheaton, now we weren’t vying to be part of any certain group or achieve a particular status with one another. We were united simply by the fact that we are the Wheaton College Class of 2001. Any other person, by virtue that they were there, was worth engaging – I wanted to know where they were living, what they were doing, if life had been good to them in the past 10 years. And of course there wasn’t enough time to catch up to this degree with everyone, but at least the weekend provided a start. Thank goodness for Facebook, right? (sidebar: which we did NOT have when I was at college, nor did we text and only a few had cell phones – gasp!) I was encouraged to see so many of us who had landed in similar places, even more closely aligned than when we were at Wheaton. It was beautiful to see classmates transformed into mothers and fathers proudly presenting their babies, a picture of how life changes us and how we are changed by life.God’s faithfulness was on display last weekend in Wheaton, Illinois, on a small college campus in a relatively small Chicago suburb filled with fall’s splendor, a good dose of nostalgia, and the stories of graduates whose lives “For Christ and His Kingdom” bear the indelible stamp of God’s grace.