Wenham, MA: I sat huddled in the car, watching rain fall from the sky like teardrops. My friend had always said that when it rained, God was crying. I never believed her. Those were childish days, when a fairy tale was the easiest way to explain the world around us, when escaping reality was our greatest goal. I had grown up since then. After all, as I stared at the raindrops that Monday morning, I was riding away from my youth and toward a new challenge that I knew God would be smiling upon – college.
Dodging raindrops, I ran up the stone steps to Frost Hall. Reaching a heavy wooden door that seemed to be from a medieval painting, I entered tentatively. A swarm of high-school students met me as I looked around. After the basics of registration were over, we were given name-tags and brochures and our day began, a day I will never forget.
My mother always said never to be fooled by the beauty of a college campus in autumn. The measure of its true beauty is how it looks when blanketed with three feet of snow. Despite this advice, I was still impressed by the rich reds and brilliant yellows that surrounded me, displaying what every real New England town should look like in October.
My desire for such a peaceful setting separates me from the student who craves college life in the city. I’d give up the excitement of New York or Boston any day for a quiet afternoon watching nature, with its rainbow of colors, revolving around me. Gordon College offers this freedom.
After we gathered for a short word of prayer to open the day’s activities, our tour of campus began. Nestled under one umbrella, my parents and I followed a large group of students and their parents around campus, relieved when our tour went to one of the residence halls where we could escape the weather. Our guide described dorm life, allowing us to peek into her room for a glimpse of this aspect of college, apologizing for the mess. I guess even college students need parents to tell them to pick up.
There are things that change, though: the difference between having your own room and sharing your space with a roommate. One day you step into the real world and realize how grateful you should have been not to spend hundreds of dollars on textbooks in high school. And of course, there is the horrifying realization that you have to do your own laundry. Another change – dealing with the differences between a public school and a Christian college – struck me as I had the opportunity to sit in on a class entitled The Development of Christian Thought. I was surprised when the professor asked the class to join with him in a word of prayer before the lesson. Even before knowledge of God poured from his mouth, a sincere moment of praise and thanksgiving enabled all to ready their minds and hearts. It was a reassuring moment.
I had never sat in a pew or listened to a sermon on a Monday, but today I did. The chapel, with its tall steeple and stained glass ornamental windows, was filled with students, faculty, and visitors. It was forty-five minutes of song, dance, and sermon illustrations. Forty-five minutes that could put a mind worried about finals and research papers at ease. It was an eye-opener for someone who hadn’t always considered a Christian college.
Remaining in the chapel after worship, I listened as Gordon students recalled their own college experiences, good and bad. They reminded us to visit as many colleges as possible, never making a decision as important as this too quickly. I heard about opportunities for on and off campus jobs, sports teams, daily devotionals, trips to Boston, and relationships with faculty that go beyond lectures to mentors who are willing to guide us to a closer walk with God. Sure, they mentioned that the food wasn’t too good and that the workload was substantial, but that was the last thing on my mind when I left the chapel that morning. I may not be a child who believes in fairy tales, but I was amazed when I stepped out into the sunshine, the ground still damp beneath my feet. God must have stopped crying. His smile was the sunshine over Gordon College that day. f
Reviewed in 1997