I decided early on in the creation of this blog that I would work to be nameless, writing from the shadows of both personal and professional secrecy. That I was a Christian working in higher education was the extent of what I wanted to share of myself personally. The idea was that this would allow me to write more openly, ask harder questions, and give more direct and authentic responses.
At the risk of giving away my identity, I have to note the tragedy that has recently struck my home campus. What a week it has been.
Last Friday, Anabel Reid, a sophomore at Abilene Christian University, left our world. And what an incredible young woman she was. What a legacy she has left. The favorite part of my job is when I am humbled and taught by 18, 19, and 20 year olds.
Anabel Reid has left me forever changed.
At the same time, there is incredible turmoil on the campus in relation to institutional direction, budgets, costs, enrollments, the recently released Provost, and a greater overall sense of panic and tension than I have ever witnessed professionally. Anabel's passing is one of those "perspective" moments, when the rest of this nonsense doesn't matter much. Or even at all.
I'm reminded of a letter that Andrew Peterson once wrote. In writing about some time he and his wife spent in relative isolation in an Alaska fishing cabin, he wrote:
"...more than all the beauty, more than the rest our spirits had there, is the feeling that we understood a little better what we're for. We are for Christ and his kingdom, and that means service. We're not here just to build a better mouse trap. We are not on this earth to make for ourselves a name. We have been redeemed by Christ to infect the world with his love, and make joy the rule and not the exception. We are called to use all of our resources to that end: our time, our money, our property, our talents. In the Kingdom, joy flies in the face of the storm, gathers strength from it, confounds it. Remember those sparrows? Many waters cannot quench love."
The tiny match lights of hope and joy in tragedies like this are that you get to see what people are made of...when individuals rise up and become the full picture of who God has called them to be. Leaders rise up and lead. 18-year old students stand tall and summon words and actions that teach those of us who have been teachers for years. Professional adversaries put aside tension and roll up their sleeves in partnerships to make difficult phone calls, hug, share tears, and do what needs to be done. To come together as one.
On the other hand, you also see folks at their worst...as folks struggle to find their way into the spotlight, to make this about them, to do whatever they can to find their way into the tiny glow of the match light, and for some reason, make the tough times about them.
It's like staring directly into the sun and complaining about the darkness.
Anabel Reid will not be forgotten because she understood that life was a jumbo slurpee, there to drink and enjoy, but never the main course. She was about Christ and his kingdom.
It's about Christ and his kingdom.
And for what it's worth, I'm not good with God now either. Beautiful young servants do not die on the way to serve orphans. That's absurd and ridiculous and not worthy of someone mighty and all loving and whatever other adjectives we typically throw his way. It's sickening and disgusting. It's stupid.
If God above is hearing my cries, I trust he can handle my disbelief and anger at his handling of his own affairs. May God give grace and peace to the Reid family and the massive wake of confusion and sadness left in the wake of Anabel's passing. If I may be so bold as to say, not cool man...not cool.
~ Listening to Pearl Jam