Fifteen years ago this month, I graduated from college. Looking back over fifteen years, I don’t always feel like I’ve done the best that I can with my time and life. There are certainly days when I have about as much clarity about my future and career as when I graduated.
This graduation season, though, I was reminded by a picture of a familiar chair of the fullness of my “college experience” and the abundance in each place that I sit. Last night, I succumbed to technology, so easy to do. As I was flipping through the Facebook newsfeed on my smart phone, checking out a YouTube time lapse video of my sister painting a mural, and half listening to a British show on Netflix, I came across a picture of a chair.
For lack of a better name, since I’ve forgotten the story behind these chairs, I’ll call it the Johnnie chair. I went to St. John's College, a small liberal arts college in Santa Fe, New Mexico. One of the defining physical features of our college were the chairs, aesthetically pleasing chairs made of wood with woven seats and backs. The Johnnie chairs were the only chairs in our classrooms, dorm rooms, library, cafeteria, balconies, and common areas.
During my four years at college, I spent countless hours in these chairs, uncovering the mysteries of the world, trying to answer unanswerable questions, hashing out confusing relationships, hanging out and joking with friends, tutoring, and finding new friends, including my husband. Perhaps most significantly, I also was drawn onto a path to Christ while sitting in a Johnnie chair. It sounds strange, but I’d consider the Johnnie chair almost a friend, like a piece of inherited furniture that is made of fond memories as much as wood and cloth.
I spent my sophomore year of college at the college’s sister school in Annapolis. I remember entering my first seminar, being surrounded by mostly unfamiliar faces, but finding a comforting seat in a Johnnie chair. The disconcerting feeling of so many unfamiliar things felt a little less daunting. Along with all the academic things and life lessons I discovered while seated in a Johnny chair, one of my favorite things to do was to balance on the chairs back legs.
I leaned back in class, my feet lifted, two fingers in the table edge, one and then none, finding the sweet balance spot and challenge of staying there. As I remember where I sat fifteen years ago, in a graduation chair, having sat for four years in Johnnie chairs, ready to launch into the world, I think about all the places I sit throughout the day--with my children, my husband, friends, God, for work, for occasional writing, to get to familiar and new places. Each seat--even though it may not be a seat I’d thought I’d be in at graduation--reveals a little bit about God’s work and love in my life.
p.s. You can find a picture of the Johnnie chair on Facebook, on my dear friend’s own Facebook fan page for the Johnnie Chair (that’s how much the chair means to its graduates).
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