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November 05, 2012

Quiet Contemplation

Quiet Contemplation

The first day of Semester feels paradoxically as close as yesterday and as far away as the dawn of time. Now, at the latter half of the month of October, we have learned much about much by taking to heart the necessity and privilege of asking questions. Classes have covered a multitude of topics, much like the topics of conversation at the tables during meal times. Although the meal time conversations are heavier on the laughter side of things rather than the educational side, but one leaves both with a smile.

Mornings of late have had certain things in common: beautiful light on the mountains, very chilly and crisp fall air, and wonderful breakfasts. Trust me when I say that we are more breathless at the beauty, not the cold, than we are fatigued by the commonness of the start to each day. So Monday dawned in a beautifully common way. Dr. Don Williams arrived Sunday afternoon and began classes on Monday morning. He began with teaching us about the importance of intentional study. Not only with regards to the betterment of our minds, but also with reference to the Bible and what it commands of us. For me, this furthered my thinking on a question that I have had for a long time but it did not come into focus as a question until January. The reason it came into focus was that a friend told me “you cannot passionately pursue God by thinking.” While I disagreed with my friend, the formulation of an answer to that statement has taken a little time. Now, with an understanding of the fact that the content of scripture commands it, the nature of scripture necessitates it, and scripture commissions it, I have a slightly better answer as well as the tools to find out how to passionately pursue God by thinking and studying. The answer to that statement will, I feel, be a major theme throughout my life.

The lectures of the morning continued, and by the end my mind was sufficiently blown from the three hours of intense focus. Lunch followed closely on the heels of the morning classes and afterwards we had study and exercise time. So after more hardworking of our minds, those who are not sick get to go play and have fun while those of us who are under the weather surrender to sweet slumber for a time. After dinner, we have a small amount of free time before we head off for the intellectual dinner of the day, evening class. On this day, Dr. Williams discussed and lectured on one of my heroes, Francis Schaeffer. Even though I knew a little about the life of Schaeffer, mostly from growing up with my family and from reading a little of Schaeffer, either I had forgotten or never knew that as far as theology goes, he went from two extremes before he found the balanced middle. His love of culture and theology is what has given me permission to love the arts and culture while still having and developing an orthodox theology. After a total of five hours in the classroom, I, at least, went to bed happy and intellectually satiated for a short time.

As day flows into day, Monday becomes Tuesday. The day unfolds in a similar pattern as Monday, but with work crews in the afternoon. The twice weekly event of work crews provides us with the ability to balance out the intellectual side with the practical by helping keep the grounds in working and aesthetic order. From pulling weeds, working in the kitchen, digging ditches, or cleaning the lodges, I always come away thankful, happy, and tired. 

After spending over six weeks at Semester, I have laughed till my sides hurt, felt the refiner’s (Dr. Bauman) fire melting my mind only to make it stronger and sharper, asked questions that I will get to spend the rest of my life figuring out, and made friends that will last as long as the questions do. It has been said that men lead lives of quiet desperation; here, we lead lives of quiet contemplation. Whether in class or out, all of us have a multitude of questions and ideas going through our still sophomoric minds on our way to becoming true thinkers. One idea that has been bounding its way through my head is that of an idea by Washington Irving. He says the only two edged instrument that gets sharper with use is the tongue. I agree, but only in part. The mind is the other instrument, it can cut like a two edged instrument, that will, with much use and labor, get sharper with use. All of the students here can attest to the fact that Dr. Bauman’s mind and Dr. Williams’ mind, both extremely well ordered and therefore sharp, can cut into one’s mind. Thankfully they only use their minds in love.

Jewelle Mathes, 23

Tuttle, OK

Jewelle grew up in a Christian home and said the sinner’s prayer at the age of seven and at age of twelve rededicated her life to God. While in college Jewelle has been active in campus groups and Bible studies in a pursuit to balance belief with practice. Jewelle is pursuing a philosophy degree from Hillsdale Free Will Baptist College, and is most concerned with the secular/sacred split. She is also passionate and active in the arts wanting to show Christians that the arts need to be redeemed, not abandoned. At the same time, Jewelle wants to show the world that Christianity is an intelligent faith.

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