Grief of Place
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me.”–C.S. Lewis
Grief… “A universal human experience”. Gary Collins explains that grief is a normal response to the loss of any significant person, object, or opportunity.* The past couple of years, I have borrowed others experience of grief. Sometimes I have absorbed and experienced the feeling/knowing of loss myself. I have seen the loss of my grandparents, my step-mom, friends, and even had the honor of leading the funeral for an awesome lady from my church.
Not to downplay the grief born out of the loss of someone special, my focus here is that I want to reflect on the grief caused by the loss of place. I want to think about the loss of space and environment. In fact the reason to start this blog is partially caused by the feelings of a certain event. This past week I learned that the college I went to has decided to close its physical doors. Nazarene Bible College will move to a completely online platform. NBC was founded in the 1960’s and aimed at preparing men and women to serve in various ministry capacities. The campus will move to a completely virtual reality. Obviously this is the logical outcome for many reasons, I assume mainly, due to economics.
This place is very significant to who I am. To what makes me tick. To what makes me think that the Church that proclaims Jesus matters. I moved to Colorado Springs in 2003 fresh out of High School to attend NBC. That decision changed my life forever. I enrolled with the intention of becoming a Youth Pastor and obtaining at B.A. degree in Pastoral Ministries (with the help of many my goal was achieved). There were no dorms and I was broke without any financial help (outside of student loans). I worked three jobs throughout college which took me nearly six years to complete. One of those jobs was cleaning each of the six buildings on campus.
Many other things shaped me in that place. I met the girl I would marry from my former youth pastor (who graduated and nudged me to attend NBC). I married my wife in the chapel on campus. The professors were (are) of the highest caliber (academically and of character). I am forever grateful for these teachers of Scripture and life. They did not give easy answers to my questions but challenged me in all areas of my mind, heart, and soul. Their influence shaped me for the better. I did take online classes when I needed to, but I would not be the person I am today if I had not been in the physical environment of that place and in the presence of the great mentors. I believe that NBC will continue its mission, but I believe that an important shaping of that mission has been tragically lost and will need new mediums to recreate and foster human interaction beyond the computer screen.
I felt deep parts of me were hit, like when you hear someone close has a fatal accident. It is interesting how the loss of place can even cause incredible “shock/denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance”. This causes me to reflect on the sacredness of creation. The life we live and the people who make up the moments and spaces in which we share them truly do wind their way into the fabric of the reality of who we are.
Spaces are important and not meaningless. Nazarene Bible College as a place will remain a constant reminder of the special reality that place has in life. It also reminds me that places come and go but just because they are gone does not diminish their value. It is no wonder that the Apostle Paul found his geography “in Christ” able to live in a larger reality happening. One commentator notes that the language of “In Christ” appears over 160 times throughout the New Testament.* As humanity goes through life creating spaces and memories, those who trust a loving God can always grieve like those who have hope (1 Thess 4:13). Maybe someone can relate to these thoughts. Grieving is not easily understood or easy to process. May the God who holds all things together and in who we live, move, and have being give each of us hope when we feel loss of someone or something special.
Collins, Gary R. Christian Counseling: A Comprehensive Guide. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
Snodrass, Klyne. The NIV Application Commentary, Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996.