Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Thursday, August 18, 2016


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter

We are staying home this week. It’s “Welcome Week” at IU. Forty thousand students and their parents are driving on the two narrow one-way streets that lead to campus-- the wrong way on both of them. Except there is really only one street to campus, since the city always waits until August to start reconstruction on one of them.

We called it Orientation Week when I started school here. Now, almost every student, with parents, has had a week of orientation in the summer, so their only task during “Welcome Week” is to move into their room--with their refrigerator, TV, futon, computer, printer, microwave oven, stereo system, coffee maker, pony, and loft bed—and find out where the booze store is and who has a false ID.

For Orientation Week, none of us had been on campus before, except the girls who had attended Girls State, so we met for the first time some stranger with whom we would share a 4x6 room, then went to sessions led by upperclassmen to learn the school song and hear about Greek rush.

Then we filled out, by hand, eleven 3x5 cards, one for each university entity that might need one, like the library and the campus police and the residence halls office, etc. It was actually printed as only one card, but it was perforated into 11 identical smaller cards to be torn apart for the various offices. [1]

Then we stood in lines at tables in the field house to sign up for classes, only to learn each time we got to the front of the line that the only English class—or History or Psychology or Basket Weaving--available was at 5 a.m. [Actually, classes started at 7:30, but to most college students, that might as well have been 5:00.]

Then they gave us a folded paper map of the campus and wished us good luck in finding our way to the classes we didn’t want at the times we didn’t want them.

Boys were required to take two years of ROTC and phys ed, and girls were required to take phys ed. The ROTC classes were conducted only at noon on days when the temperature was 90 F or above, so that marching on the football field in our WWII left-over wool suits would be a more interesting experience.

I lived in Trees Center, 8 “temporary” left-over wooden two-story WWII officer training dorms. The best thing about it was that when someone asked you where you lived, you could say, “In trees.” I was in Linden, the home of the male half of The Residence Scholarship Plan, for bright kids who were too poor to go to college. We got reduced room and board by doing all our own maid and janitorial work.

I loved every moment of it. It was the most wonderful time of my life. [2]

The best part of it was walking back to Linden Hall, after the meals that I worked as a busboy at the center where the grad students lived, called Rogers Center then. There were six or eight of us who walked together, half of them girls from Pine Hall, the female half of The Residence Scholarship Plan. We were young, we were free, we didn’t have to go to classes yet. It was magical.

So I use that week as my reset button. When the world gets too overwhelming, I return to that week and start over. I wrote a song about it. I sing it as I do my reset. It’s to the tune of Love Letters in the Sand.


On a day like today, the skies were never gray
Walking back to good old Linden Hall
The girls were dressed in yellow, our hearts were young and mellow
Walking back to good old linden Hall. [3]

The days were always fair, there was romance in the air
Walking back to good old Linden Hall
Only the sky was blue, there was nothing we could not do
Walking back to good old Linden Hall.

Our hearts back then were full and young and free
We gave no thought to what might come to be
Now that I live in memory, it is so sweet to be
Walking back to good old Linden Hall.


I tweet as yooper1721.

1] Helen thinks it was only 8, not 11. I think it was an uneven number, so maybe 9?

2] Tomorrow I’ll reflect on how the care-free times of life seem to be the best but are really “transfiguration” moments.

3] The girls who worked in the cafeteria wore yellow uniform dresses, which they had to don and doff at Pine Hall. The boys wore white t-shirts under short white coats, which we put on at the cafeteria.

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