Alma Mater

Today I dawdle along my old familiar paths
Pausing to take in all that has changed
And all that is yet as it used to be
Reaching out, I can almost touch the moments
They whisper out from between the bricks
From cracks in the mortar

The smell of roses under brilliant autumn trees
Bare feet on rough pavement
The blended chaos of ten soloists rehearsing at once
New friends, new foods, new ways of life
Having nothing in common with the boy sitting next to me
Cockroaches skittering in the hot summer air
Stinging tears, a red ‘F’ glaring up from my exam
My first (and last) chamber ensemble performance
Praying under the bright shadows of stained glass
Late nights up with friends in crisis
Pounding out worship on every beaten old piano
Talking up in a tree while the rain poured around us
Awkward group rehearsals of therapy techniques
Midnight walks without care or fear
Long drives home, punctuated by the sharp smell of manure
The sting of winter air in unheated houses
Feeling love for a broken city
Drifting off each night to the last song of the bell tower
Huge smiles framed by pink hoods and tassels
A ‘magna’ on my diploma, the least of my treasures

My reverie is broken by a stream of students
Pouring from rehearsal into the hot night air
Loaded with books and instruments
The hall may be theirs for this season,
But I, too am of this place
Embodied and historied
My moments live on between these bricks,
Even if just for me
Even if just as a whisper

All these memories pass like ghosts before me
But I can examine them
Without sadness, without loss
Indeed, this season was not lost, but became
A foundation poured into the frames
A place on which to build
This collection of moments, solidified and strong
Is able, by some mystery of grace,
To withstand the weight of all that came after
Christ graciously working my loves, tears, joys
Into himself
Until our lives are one
A foundation, not impersonal and cold
But warmly welcoming,
Built by many hands

If I reach out, I can almost touch them,
Almost live those moments,
Cured as they are into the foundation of my life

© 2019 Jacqueline Tisthammer. All Rights Reserved.

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