Heaven and High School

As we age, I think we not only go through a second childhood, we also experience a second high-school. I suppose I am thinking mainly about those who found high school difficult and depressing.

My four years of high school seemed like they would never end or never get better. My grades were terrible, and I felt on the outside looking in. And there was always a swirl of drama about who liked who, who was cool and who wasn’t. A kid could only rise to fame with a touchdown or game-winning shot in a basketball game.

Although I knew it would end, I couldn’t really imagine life after high school. College was an abstraction. I had been a lazy student with low grades, so college was something I would try but was not a grand dream. High school, even my senior year, was my whole boring world.

Old age, with talons of cancer and memory loss, have swept down upon us. Teckla and I have both had surgery for cancer. Our calendars are filled with doctors’ appointments. We live in a swirl of drama about the results of this blood test or that MRI. We see no end in sight, no hope of things getting better. Age and disease have laid a long siege on our bodies. Heaven and resurrection seem like abstractions.

Most of my students at the college are freshmen, and many are away from home for the first time. After the winter break, I ask them what it was like to go home. They always comment on how different everything was even though they had been gone only a few months. Many experience what I did. Almost immediately after graduation, all the drama and misery and cliques of high school ceased to matter.

I remember walking through the streets of Myrtle Point on my first winter break from college and hearing someone call out my name. Rod, who in all our years together in high school had never talked to me, wanted to know how I was doing. It was clear that the cliques and divisions of high school no longer mattered. In fact, lots of things got turned upside town. Suddenly, nerdy kids completing college degrees were celebrated while state champion athletes quietly went to work in the lumber mills.

I know that a moment after my death, my graduation from this present misery, all this drama, fretting, and hopelessness will be turned upside down. The pointless will be woven into purpose. The low, neglected, and forgotten will be exalted. Misery will become glory. My trudging faithfulness and endurance will be treasured. All that seemed endless will be an interlude of hardship before an eternity of blessing.

Recognizing all this should help me more than it does. It is, nonetheless, good to say out loud again and again. Right now, I want my headache to go away.

About Mark

I live in Myrtle Point, Oregon with my wife Teckla and am the father of four boys. Currently I teach writing and literature at Southwest Oregon Community College. I am a graduate of Myrtle Point High School, Northwest Nazarene College, and have a Masters in English from Washington State University.
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