Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Senior Reflection

I had the privledge to share this at Gordon's Senior Breakfast and thought it fitting for my first post:

I came to Gordon with little thought or planning. I packed in a day and felt sorry saying goodbye to my home as anxious though I may have been to leave it during high school. It wasn’t my first time away but Gordon proved challenging in many new ways. I’ve jokingly compared it to putting shoes on a girl who went barefoot her entire life. Perhaps the metaphor is a bit extreme to describe my experience as a homeschooler entering the world of college. I had taken advantage of community college and traveled but I had never moved away ideologically or mentally. I was suddenly in a world where everything was defined in ways foreign to me.

I wrote papers with no thesis statements because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. Thankfully, I was put in the freshman seminar, Christianity, Character and Culture with Elaine Phillips who has the not-entirely unique ability to make a two credit course feel like six. I can’t complain however, because without her I wouldn’t have half the writing skills I have today.
And yet, I became overwhelmed quickly. I didn’t know if I belonged in the pursuit of strictly academic understanding. Dr. Hildebrandt unknowingly convinced me that Gordon was the school for me by patiently answering all of my questions and listening to my doubts after several Old Testament classes. It was the first time in my life that I felt that ideas and misgivings I had weren’t crazy. Maybe I had something worthwhile to say and I knew I had a lot left to learn.
So I stayed and found the next four years to be some of the most difficult and yet most rewarding of my life. I immersed myself in Spanish and became obsessed with sociology with many thanks to the departments of both disciplines and, of course, took full advantage of my liberal arts education with thanks to the entire Gordon faculty and staff.
I interned at Gordon in Lynn and found five millions reasons to smile every Tuesday and Thursday while tutoring. Lynn also became my home for three semesters and gave me the opportunity to have an urban experience while still attending Gordon. I hiked the mountains of Guatemala on a two-week sociology seminar with Kirk McClelland and Dr. Dan Johnson. I learned what it really takes to brew a beautiful cup of coffee but I also learned that we are all connected in ways I will never fully comprehend. My actions affect my brother- a thought that first terrified me and then liberated me. Class of 2010- think of what we can do if we keep this in mind as we head out into our futures!
I had the privilege to visit Tijuana, Mexico twice on Mexico Outreach with leaders like Isaiahs Rivera and Cheryl Deluca where I was given the gift of seeing what true faith looks like. All of these trips tied my Spanish and sociology majors together perfectly and gave me a chance to connect what I was learning in the classroom with the real world. I realized there were reasons that I was in college that had less to do with getting high grades than seeing the world with honest eyes. Many times I found my heart a bit broken and my mind much more confused than it wished to be. Life seemed to contradict itself again and again. My Gordon experience wasn’t confined to the Wenham campus. It stretched past seas and crossed boundaries I didn’t know existed. It was so much to take it!
One moment I was convinced of my beliefs and feeling centered. Then another sociology discussion with my friends would send me spinning. I tore down and reconstructed what I thought I had already learned again and again. But it’s this exercise that I think has taught me the most. I am not sure we every fully learn anything. The Bible tells us to be like sheep, which as Timothy Keller points out quite correctly, is slightly unflattering. I’m a country girl. I know this. Sheep are stupid. Timothy Keller says we all want to be like dogs- we want to know where we are running. We don’t want to have to trust. But what I like is that the Bible also tells us to be like children. This is something I have found disconcerting at more than one point in my life. I was afraid this meant dumbly accepting rules and guidelines. But having worked with children for a few summers now and, of course, tutoring, I realize that children are the most questioning and curious beings one could ever know. And yet, at the end of the day, they still trust their parents. They aren’t afraid to go and get a little scraped up as they learn what’s in the world around them but there is an infallible and intrinsic trust built into them.

It is a beautiful thing to graduate and admit that you have no clue what’s next. It is amazing to walk with the knowledge that you are ignorant and that you will always have everything left to learn. As frustrated as I was when I realized I could not magically “arrive” at full and complete understanding, now I see this as one of life’s beautiful mysteries. I can honestly say I believe that God made us this way.

So please follow peers and classmates- follow graduates of 2010- walk in humility and don’t forget to be childlike and don’t forget what you have yet to learn.


  1. I loved reading this- everything that I have watched you learn and grow by these past four years all written in a beautiful speech.

    I am proud of you. I am proud of the numerous ways that you have allowed yourself to grow, and be molded by Christ.

    The future? Although unknown, I am excited to see everywhere that God will take you. I have no doubt in my mind it certainly won't be boring.

    As the sister that did so much of her growing up along side you, words cannot describe the pride and love I feel for you.

    So Congratulations Claire!

  2. you inspire me.

    and congrats on graduating.

  3. Congratulations Claire! I am so proud of you and you inspire me to be a better me. I love you, my second daughter:)