Getting through this together
One of Valpo’s senior art students knows exactly where one of her paintings is. Or at least, she knows exactly where it was on Friday afternoon.
Her parents were on campus for the art walk, and they were rushing around together, and she decided to leave some of her work in the Art-Psychology building. She said, “I knew I’d be able to come back the next day and clean it up.”
And then, there was the fire.
We build our routines, our plans, our whole lives around the things we know. Where our classes will be held tomorrow. Where a certain book or tool is. Where we can house our lab rats.
Friday’s fire brings us all the painful reminder: in one mysterious instant, everything we know can be stolen from us. Our joy crashes down into grief. The expected future disappears, and suddenly it’s hard to imagine even the very next steps forward.
One of the most influential stories in the Old Testament is that of the Israelites’ exile in Babylon. They were forced to live in the land of their enemies, their conquerors, within the nation that had burned their houses and their temple to the ground. Can you imagine?
Early on in the time of exile, the elders received a letter from the prophet Jeremiah. He sent them this word from God:
“Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare” (Jeremiah 29:5-7). Then he told them that everyone claiming that they would all return home soon were liars.
Can you imagine hearing that message while forcibly exiled with your enemy? It’s a promise that there will be no going home. Your grandchildren will be born here. Might as well get used to it. Might as well pray for your new home.
Our current chapter of the Valpo story – the burning of the Art-Psychology building – is different in many ways from that ancient story of exile. But what resonates and reverbates from that story into ours is the finality of the change, the loss, the lack of control, the wondering about the future – and the grief.
Yet there is wisdom I’d like to pry out of this painful passage. What is the core of Jeremiah’s message to the exiles? It’s this: Be where you are. Stay in the moment. Live into the life that’s yours right now.
For us at Valpo, that means living into this moment of grief. For those of us with memories and work and lives connected to the Art-Psychology building, it means seeking comfort, sharing stories, shedding tears. The rest of us are called to ask questions, to listen, and to offer care.
We’ll get through this together. We already are.
And as we live into this moment of grief, we’ll find ourselves moving into a new moment. Slowly, we’ll be able to imagine a future, and then we’ll even learn to find joy in the future. When our hearts are ready.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
Amen and amen.
May 4, 2022
MORE CARE & COMFORT:
The Valparaiso University Counseling Center can help. Stop by during regular walk-in hours Monday–Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and let them know you are there for help re: the Art-Psychology Building fire.
Want to share your memories of the building? The Art/Psych Memory Project, a private group on Facebook for sharing memories, has been created by Abbey Grim, ’12.
Alumni/friends can contribute memories and words of encouragement at alumni.valpo.edu/apbmemorium.
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A call to courage for 2021
- A charming tale for over-achievers
- A Lesson On Beans … and Being
- A New Place
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- A Time of Dust
- Acquiring a peaceful spirit
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Anastasis: the Greatest Story of God’s Saving Power
- Another kind of darkness
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- As if we needed a reminder
- Beacons of hope
- Better Together
- Blessings As You Go
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Fear of the Lord
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Getting through this together
- God is not overwhelmed
- Good Friday
- Grief & Graduation
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How do you keep from giving up hope?
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- Imagining Eternity
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In everything, grateful
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Jesus among us
- Killing off our future selves
- Knowing a Good Thing When We See It
- Lessons in fire building
- Let there be light!
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- Naming our demons
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- On the day after the night before
- Persistent and Extravagant
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Praying for Reconciliation
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Rest is Holy
- Right where we are
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Surprisingly Simple: Breathe!
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Trouble with Mammon
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You might be a Lutheran if…
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- WWJD? We already know
- Walking in the Light of Jesus’ Resurrection
- We had hoped
- We’re on a mission from God
- What do you do with your anger?
- What good is a shepherd?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When God uses something terrible for good
- When heaven & earth click
- When joy and sadness live together
- When stress overwhelms
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- When we are moved
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Won’t you be my neighbor?
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future