“Several years ago…”

by Elouise

This true story is at the end of Confessions of a Beginning Theologian.  I referred to it in a recent post.  Here’s more of the story, including the way it played out in my life a year later.

Several years ago I was in my car, on my way to the first day of spring semester classes.  I felt shaky and uncertain.  A year earlier, students had lodged serious complaints against me.  They were reported to me anonymously at the end of the semester; several pages, single-spaced and typed.  I was devastated.  The seminary president requested a meeting with my dean and me.  I asked one of my teaching colleagues to accompany me.

The meeting was long and difficult.  I couldn’t believe this was happening to me.  My request to meet with concerned students was denied.  Now, just one year later, several students who might have been part of that group were in the required course I was on my way to meet for the first time.

I stopped at a traffic light and waited for it to change.  Two older men, perhaps in their seventies, were coming down the sidewalk, facing me.  They were out for an early-morning walk.  They moved along quickly, talking and laughing.  The sun was up.  It was a gorgeous day.

As they came closer, I noticed they were holding hands.  This seemed rather unusual.  But it was also wonderful.  My mind turned to friendships among older men.  I wondered how long these men had known each other and whether they walked together every day.

Suddenly, without any signal and without breaking their stride, they left the sidewalk and began walking  through a large parking lot.  They seemed to be of one will.  As they angled away from the sidewalk, I saw it for the first time—the short leather strap they were holding between them.  One of them was blind.

In a flash my eyes filled with tears.  I saw myself walking blindly into this class.  Seeing some things, but not everything.  Knowing someone with sight beyond my sight was beside me.  All I had to do was follow God’s lead, keep holding on to the strap and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

It looked easy when I watched those two men.  Almost effortless.  But God knows, as they knew, how difficult it sometimes is to keep moving and keep trusting.
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© Elouise Renich Fraser, 1998 and February 2015
Excerpt from Confessions of a Beginning Theologian (pp. 131-32)
Published by Intervarsity Press 1998