Hi Fellow Wheaties, class of ’88,
I got my 30 year college reunion magnet along with a written invitation in the mail recently, thank you very much! I slapped that beautiful magnet covered with a fall array of colors right up on my fridge, almost without even thinking about it. Every time I get something from Wheaton College, my alma mater, aka, you guys….I get a bit of a low level angst and irritability, peppered with stabs of conscience. While I have been brushing these feelings aside over the years, and the weight of judgement and failure that can come with, I cannot seem to keep it under wraps one more minute. I hardly feel a Wheatie! More, a “fallen” or better yet, “falling” Wheatie. Your religious mission, “For Christ and his Kingdom” has been a life long thorn in my side.
I graduated from the good ole, blue and orange, described as the “ Harvard of evangelical schools”, having had a truly wonderful, life changing but also extremely limited and narrow college experience, I was bound and determined to stay on that high and narrow path of evangelical Christianity. Hell, I even got married while I was there. I tried and tried to follow the rules, as set out for me biblically, until I didn’t. Until I fell. Into divorce, twice, into the lovely charms of alcohol, and other forms of addiction, and well, all sorts of other segways off the beaten path, which have made this lifetime at times equal parts challenging beyond belief, but as well, delicious and worthwhile, in the wisdom gained from many falls and many awakenings.
I so dearly want to join the bitter and disheartened bunch of us that couldn’t stay on that narrow tightrope. We who have fallen or are falling, who strayed from your course, at times resort to bitter backhanded discourse about how ridiculous you Wheaties are and how glad we are that “we” have evolved as humans to understand that there is more to faith then these continual reprisals of fear based reactionary events. But. I can’t. Because what I’ve learned in my falling down life, is there is no “us” and “them”, there is no difference between us at all, despite our past clutching to the cause, Christian, non Christian, Buddhist, Hindi, really any set of religious beliefs. There is just clinging to belief and then there is faith. Faith in the unknown, in uncertainty, in the willingness to admit we just don’t know for sure and that is A O.K. Faith in the power of love, I pray, daily, minute by minute some days.
The college needs to know that the rest of us that don’t show up at the reunions and who may on occasion, slam Wheaton on social media, or elsewhere, and have somehow “fallen” into a life of which our dear old Wheaton establishment, would highly disapprove, are still alive!! We’re still getting the refrigerator magnets, and letters and such, that we often resent. We have much to offer!
As Jesus met the woman at the well, so must you, dear ole’ Wheaton, find a place for we “falling” Wheaties, who may in some way, embrace the path of Christianity, but do not see it as exclusive, but inclusive of a greater whole. We who have accepted heaven in the here and now, born again in each moment of choosing love over fear as the portal to a life with abundance now and ever after. We who are falling and don’t care to get up. It is your mission to find a place for us too, not because we need to come back, but because you need to come back and make room in your hearts as equals, sharers in the keys to the kingdom. We are here too. Humans.
I hope the reunion goes smoothly. In love and faith,
Jill Woodworth, B.S. 1988