Day One Thousand – Goodbye, Wake Forest.

All who are thirsty, come to the water… listen carefully to me, and eat what is good. – Isaiah 55:1-3

At about 12:00 PM today, my higher theological education will officially end, as I will have had the degree of Master of Divinity conferred upon me, and my diploma handed to me. After ninety-two credit hours of classes and three different internships, with twenty-one different instructors in seven different classrooms and five different cities, I have completed the necessary requirements for the degree.

Nine hundred ninety-nine days ago was my very first day of class at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity. August 25th, 2010. That morning, I wrote a blog post about how it was my first day of classes – “Day One – Hello, Wake Forest!” – and by gosh does that blog post expose just how firmly entrenched in the first naivete I was in August of 2010. But on that day, I also went to my first theological classes – Hebrew I and Foundations of Christian Ethics – and the first naivete began to unravel. I went to class that day for the first time with numerous people who I didn’t know at all then, but now consider dear friends. Day One was one heck of a day.

It’s really weird to think that today is Day One Thousand. And in a couple of hours, I will graduate from Wake Forest University with my Master’s Degree in Divinity.

Over the last three years, I have had some of the greatest times of my life. I have become friends with some of the most amazing people I could have ever hoped to know. I met the woman I’m marrying at Wake Div. The minister who will be marrying us – we know him from Wake Div. The eight people with whom I quite happily spent my last Spring Break probably ever – all from Wake Div.

After graduation today, I will bid them farewell. And while I would love to say it will be a matter of “I’m not saying goodbye, I’m saying… see you later,” the reality is… it’s saying goodbye.

One is going to Houston, another to Wilmington. One back home to Roanoke, another all the way across the country to pursue a Ph.D at UC Santa Barbara. One will be headed to Pennsylvania, another to Romania. One will be headed to active duty in the Air Force, and while some will remain in and around the Triad, they won’t be in Wingate Hall every day.

The truth of the matter is, after today, the Wake Forest University School of Divinity Class of 2013 will be consigned to the history books. Our transcripts will be finalized, our degrees mailed, our class picture added to the wall marking the twelfth graduating class from Wake Div. Our professors will bid us good luck and farewell, we will probably sing about vibrant strands and rainbow hues one final time…

And then, it will all be over.

Needless to say, I can’t help but feel a bit melancholy. When I get melancholy, I turn to music, and this morning, I came across a song that seems far too appropriate.

I know that we at Wake Div give contemporary Christian bands a wee bit of crap for less than stellar theology at times, but this song – with its utter lack of any attempt at having a theological message – absolutely describes how I’m feeling on this morning of Day 1,000.

This song was written by the band Audio Adrenaline to mark their retirement in 2006 and is, most appropriately, entitled “Goodbye”. You can click on the YouTube video at the bottom to play it, and because the video itself might cause your eyes to bleed (bright colors! early morning! ye gods!), I’ll just give you the lyrics here.

You’ll be fine tomorrow, the sun will rise again… it’s never easy to say goodbye. You know I’ll always love you, you know I always will…
Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, my old friend. Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, we’ve reached the end.
I don’t cry with sorrow, I cry with joy… the memories we made can’t be destroyed. You know I won’t forget you, you know I never could; and when I said I loved you, you know I meant for good.

Goodbye, Wake Div. Thank you for three phenomenal years.

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