We were just 30 academy students on our spring music tour, dog-tired as we pulled into our destination for the night. The evening's five-star accommodations had been reserved on the floor of a school gymnasium, but the building was locked tighter than a drum. Fortunately it was a beautiful, clear night, which explains why someone suggested we should roll our sleeping bags out on the lawn in the school's courtyard. There under the stars our exhausted group drifted gradually off to sleep. And there, at 4:30 in the morning, a preset, predetermined, predestined event clicked into place and became part of school lore forever. Throughout the lush grassy courtyard, where we sprawled in slumbering repose, the automatic sprinklers prompted a surprisingly efficient call to rise and shine.
It was a coming of age experience. Moments earlier we would have been aptly described as wet behind the ears. Now ... well, you get the picture.
This indelible memory is parked with countless others of my journey through Adventist education. I do not recall much of what I was taught. Oh, the knowledge is there all right, down deep in the cerebral cortex. Fuzzy recollections of geometry formulas, molecular biology theorems, sentence diagrams and quadratic equations float just beyond my reach. Such is the nature of a general education. Not knowing where our ultimate course in life will take us, we gorge on a wide menu of subjects, packing them in like sardines, hoping that something in there might someday come in handy. And, often they do.
But far closer to the surface are those recollections of people and experiences that have touched our hearts and tickled our funny bones. These have an emotional shelf-life far greater than mere words from a book. The Revenge of the Sprinklers episode noted earlier is such a memory. A specific band concert also sticks out as an indelible lesson of the importance of attention to detail. Within our repertoire we had two distinctly different pieces — "Hymn of Freedom" adapted from Brahms, and a rip-snorting medley called "Spiritual Festival." The first began with oh-so-quiet woodwind chords, the other with monumental blasts from the tuba and baritone horn. Ironically, in this particular instance, the only ones to get their music out of order were me on the baritone and my seatmate holding the tuba. So, with the slowly sweeping down stroke of the conductor's baton in anticipation of Brahms, I leave the rest of that story to your imagination.
The unexpected surprises are the memories that often linger. But in my journey through Adventist education, perhaps the most important lesson goes far beyond mere cognitive recall. It's of a Man who never let the pursuit of knowledge impede His pursuit of people. The Man who not only talked grace, but lived it.
Should that not be at the core of Adventist education: to train the head, mouth, heart and hands to convey the grace of our Savior to our neighbors and our world?
Methinks the world could use a glimpse of Him right now.
"In my journey through Adventist education, perhaps the most important lesson of all is that of a Man who never let the pursuit of knowledge impede His pursuit of people."