It’s been several days since I was back on the campus of my beloved alma mater for a small arts & crafts show that was held as part of “Welcome Week” for new and returning students, but I haven’t stopped thinking about my time there. A lot of the campus looks just like it always has to me: the clock in the bell tower, Old Maid’s Gate, The Goose, the post office, Callaway Hall. I’m very at home there. I am considered a “legacy” there: my mother, sister, a cousin and five aunts are also graduates of Mississippi University for Women. I have a history with this place.
A lot has changed on campus since I was a college student. There are new buildings and refurbished buildings–even missing buildings, new garden areas and several new functions for some of the older buildings. However, I saw the biggest change in the faces of the new students. Honestly, I’m not sure we were ever that young. I know that we were once their age and I do have pictures, but I really do wonder…
The W, as it is affectionately known, gave me more than just a great education and preparation for a career. It gave me some of the most important friendships of my life. Though we are spread across the nation, the friends I met there form a core group for me and I hear their voices in my head when I work out a problem or celebrate a joy. My life would be dramatically diminished if they were not in it. Throughout the years, we have played and prayed and chided and encouraged and just generally seen each other through all kinds of life issues. I have a common history with these women.
Throughout the years since my college days, God has been gracious to me and added other incredible women to my life—those whose prayers I also regularly seek and whose times I have been honored to share. I’m not certain I would have been as able to appreciate their strength if I had not previously been blessed with the life lessons that strong women need not fight even when they disagree and that friendships and families are often forged in the fires of difficult days…and lots of laughter.
As I looked at all those fresh young faces, I reflected on the years that separate us and the common experiences that unite us. I pray they find their ‘line’ in life and that God gives them the gift of friendship in the measure He’s given me. That’s a really big prayer. I’ve been truly graced.
BIA. Shall I forget, then, When I am old, I ever was a child? I tell you I shall never think of you Throughout my life, without such tenderness As breaks the heart,--and I shall think of you Whenever I am most happy, whenever I am Most sad, whenever I see a beautiful thing. You are a burning lamp to me, a flame The wind cannot blow out, and I shall hold you High in my hand against whatever darkness. BEA. You are to me a silver bell in a tower. And when it rings I know I am near home.
–the last portion of Act 3, Scene 2 from “The Lamp and the Bell”, a play by Edna St. Vincent Millay