There’s a fine line between nostalgia and remembering. As I get on in my time at Regent I look back from time to time at the people I’ve walked with along the way, reminiscing about the fun times we had together. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had a few conversations with some of my older friends here about similar experiences they’ve had. It’s amazing how many people have been a part of our collective Regent experience. What’s even more amazing is how many of these people are probably unknown to a lot of current students. I wonder then, why are we so inclined to reminisce in this way, and of what value is it?
Regent by its very nature is a transitory place with people coming here for anything from a summer, to four years or so, and then (for the most part) moving on. But as each person leaves, something leaves with them. And so, in this transitory process, we’re in danger of losing something—a certain sense of continuity and of the stories that have made up our community. Like a family, or a village, or even a nation it’s through the stories we tell that we keep a sense of who we are.
In essence what I’m talking about is folklore. I know about my nation’s heroes and they instil an identity about what it means to be, in my case, an Australian. At home we tell stories about sporting greats like ‘The Don’ who showed unsurpassed focus with a bat in hand, or the explorers Burke and Wills who investigated the land they loved so much, or even the bushranger (i.e. criminal) Ned Kelly and his ‘anti-establishment’ sentimentalities. It’s from these stories that we get a sense of what it means to be ‘us’ and I’m sure your own nation has similar heroes and tales from whom you get an idea of what it means to be ‘you’.
Just as folktales provide inspiration, guidance, and even warnings for a nation, so too can they help us here at Regent. Instead of telling you the stories from my own country, I could tell you stories about folks that have gone before me at Regent—those who saw more of the world while they studied than ever before, MDiv’ers that went back home to pastor churches, MCS’ers that wrote books, or even one student who married his CTC tutor. (Inspiration takes many forms.) And I think that the stories about these people can give us an idea of what it means for us to be here at Regent, and maybe even about what might fill that dark void which is life-after-Regent.
So, if you’re wondering about what’s next, or even about how to get through what’s now, then take heart—a lot of people have gone before you and carved out the path that you’re on.
But the stories of those that have gone before don’t tell themselves. So take the time to tell the tales that you know, and take the time to learn the tales that you don’t. Hopefully we can all learn a little bit more about what it means to be here at Regent College and hold on those parts of the story that make this place special.