CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter -- IS THIS YOUR FIRST TIME HERE?
I did not know Dwight E. Loder, although he was the president of Garrett Theological Seminary, at Northwestern U, the whole time I was a student there. I occasionally heard him preach in chapel, but I never met him personally.
I used Loder Hall quite a bit, though. It was Garrett’s newest building when I matriculated, named for the president himself. It had several floors of dorm rooms, plus a cafeteria, and lounges, and a book store, and a ping-pong room, where I spent a great deal of time trying “to go on to perfection,” as John Wesley said Methodists, especially his preachers, should. If a table tennis backhand is the measure of perfection, I fear that I fall far short of Father John’s exhortation.
From the Garrett presidency, Dwight Loder was elected a bishop.
After he retired from the bishopric, several years beyond his presidency there, he had gone back to Garrett for a conference. He signed in at the desk and was assigned a room. In Loder Hall.
The woman working the desk said to him, “Is this your first time here? If you don’t know where Loder Hall is, I can have someone show you.”
Apparently she did not consider that there might be a connection between the Loder on his name badge and the Loder on the front of the building.
The former president just told her “No, that’s okay. I think I can find it.”
He said, “How totally appropriate. My day is over. At Garrett now, I’m just another person who comes to a conference. That’s the way it should be.”
I have been one of those assigned to help people find the way. I have walked many a person over to that house of many rooms that our Father has prepared for us. I think there is even a path, hopefully straight and narrow, that is named for me. But as I get to the door of that house of many rooms myself, it’s okay for the registrar to say, “Is this your first time here?” because it is.
But as I come closer to the “room at the end of the hall,” I’m inclined to say, should anyone offer direction, “I think I can find it.”
John Robert McFarland
“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” Harriet Tubman