I remember when he was born. It was in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The pregnancy was complicated and the hospital room was full of medical people. Benjamin wasn’t crying when he was born. I thought it was peaceful. The doctors thought it was a problem. They immediately took him to a different part of the delivery room. He eventually started crying. A beautiful noise. I can honestly say a crying baby has never annoyed me. I know the alternative.
Benjamin and I have had quite an adventure. We used to play chess everyday after school. Today thirty-two Lewisbrikkenesit on a sycamore game board on our dining room table. Replicas of the Lewis chessman made in Trondheim, Norway, in the 12th century. It’s still one of my favorite ways to spend an hour or two. We led a worship service at a nursing home on Friday afternoons for seven years. I coached his soccer team for eight seasons. He was never a great player and I wasn’t much of a coach, but we had fun trying. We spent our summers doing nothing at a quiet lake in southern Missouri. Rode bikes down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. Got questioned by a police officer in Russia. Taught him how to drive a car at Chalco. I wish we could do it all over again.
I have always said the best thing about The Water’s Edge is its people. Hundreds of people have given so much. So many prayers. So much time. So much expertise. Since 2005. Benjamin is part of that group. During our early years when he was in kindergarten and first grade, we stuffed bulletins together on Saturday nights. We sat in the front row during worship when he was in upper elementary school. He would read the Bible during then I would attempt to preach from it. His biggest contribution was something none of you ever observed and only a few of you have experienced—being the child of a preacher. Disease and dysfunction and death don’t wait. Dinners interrupted. Vacations delayed. Last-minute schedule changes. He knows no other kind of life and always supported God’s calling on my life.
He’ll be graduating on Saturday night, May 25th. It will be his 18thbirthday. My friend, Jim Sutfin, will hand him a piece of paper that means one chapter of his life is over and the next one is beginning. He’ll represent Millard North as a debater one more time at the National Debate Tournament in Texas in mid-June. He has poured four years of his life into an activity he loves. It is one of the first things he has done that I wasn’t active in. But I am his biggest fan.
I can’t say I’m looking forward to August 31st. The setting will be Northfield, Minnesota. It beat out other college destinations like Atlanta and Washington D.C. and Boston. St. Olaf is this quirky, beautiful, Lutheran liberal arts college founded by a group of Norwegian pastors in the 1800s. It has students from all fifty states and over one hundred countries. The day begins moving Benjamin into a small room he’ll share with another freshman. After some gatherings and seminars and a worship service, the day ends driving five hours home to Omaha to a house with an empty room.
Fifteen marbles still in the jar. I’m going to enjoy all of them.