Leaving Regent next month makes me think about shampoo. Namely, will I finish the four bottles of Herbal Essences straightening shampoo that I bought on sale in a (regrettable) spirit of hoarding in December? This is a critical issue. My next thought is, if I don’t finish them, and since I can’t take them back east on the plane for fear of being declared a terrorist, who will I bequest them to!? Again, major issues totally eclipsing, say, what I’m going to do with my life starting May 1.
I’ve given equal thought, however, to pondering the gift of the Regent community. One of my takeaways from this place has been the gift of multiplicity—that is, being able to observe and appreciate the multiple roles that people in our community play. More accurately, it has been so good to see the fullness of various individuals’ humanity. If one of the tragedies of modernity is that we are able to compartmentalize people into categories like a tidy budget on an Excel grid, then Regent truly is a place of relational redemption. It is quite possible to live a typical urban existence in which your barista is purely your barista and your boss is just your boss. These people have no babies, no parents with Alzheimer’s, no endearing quirks, no financial problems, and certainly no dreams.
At Regent, however, that type of bifurcation is next to impossible, unless you are living in a hermetically-sealed study carrel in ‘Club JRA’ 24/7 (but even then, your classmate probably becomes your librarian as they announce that the library is closing in 15 minutes, and the circulation desk in 5.) Yes, we have all probably had the experience of our friend suddenly becoming our TA (awkward!), or having an unexpected crying jag in front our favorite professor (who is, incidentally, our community group leader), but I am convinced that it is these experiences that appropriately lash back at the dehumanizing aspects of modernity. When we discover that the person who annoys us most is the best (read: most hilarious) ceilidh dancer ever at the retreat, or learn to recognize our friend not only as a staff member but also as a fabulous grandparent, our limited categories for a full human experience expand. We, too, begin to have a more accurate view of our full humanity, which includes our own multiplicity: our limitations and opportunities, relationships and hopes.
We worship an inexhaustible God. Paul asks this God to allow us to soak up the “extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17-19, The Message). I’m glad that Regent encourages us not only to explore the “extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love” but also to embody this multi-dimensional principle through the multiplicity of prismatic relationships that are fostered here. We are thus able to live fuller lives, “full in the fullness of God.” Let’s revel in this multiplicity. And if any of you have a pressing need for multiple bottles of Herbal Essences shampoo, let me know.