A Song from On High

I worried about going to a REAL college after my time spent in post high school trade school followed by miscellaneous community college classes to try and round out my education.  A close friend and mentor would not let me settle with this approach. He saw me apply for several jobs that made perfect sense for my next career steps only to be be turned away when the interviewer compared me to the candidates with normal 4 year degrees.  I finally yielded; quit my job and made my way to Washington State and a small college where no one knew me.  Real scholastic expectations,  no friends to lean on and my family were all 2 larges states away — was this going to work?

Well – it did work.  It wasn’t easy as I’ve never been a strong student, except in electronics and computer hardware.  But, in this case, I was fortunate to find some great new friends quickly and soon I was comfortably surrounded by a bunch of smart-alecs just like me.

We were students at what was then, Northwest College (now it’s Northwest University) and I was in pursuit of a 4 year Bachelors of Arts degree.  I had a handful of college classes to transfer in so it wasn’t going to take me 4 years to complete the work.  Northwest was and is a Christian College, so it was consistent with my faith.  Like many colleges, there was a mix of folks but I was a few years older than most of them and was already comfortable with being on my own. I dug into the academics and tried to be my own mixture of friendly and rowdy with everyone and found that new friends came naturally.

Back in those days, Northwest had required chapel attendance each school day, which didn’t surprise or annoy me but I decided it was a bit heavy-handed to have both assigned seating and role was taken – in chapel?  Really?

Well, it really was, so I folded in as best I could.  It turns out that I was seated right next to a gal from central, rural Washington State.  Right from the start, I played it like any other new person I had met that first week only to find out that she was easily as rowdy as me.  Her restless sense of humor quickly wormed its way past the niceties of getting to know someone and we quickly became fast friends.

For example: our assigned seats were side by side in the middle of the front row of the chapel balcony and after signing in each day, Annette and I would struggle to behave like good Christian adults in church.  Folks who sat nearby, once they had signed in would often move further away from us for protection and some semblance of peace.

One day, I’ll never forget.  As we were winding down a very moving hymn to wonderful live music, Annette poked me, which had to be returned, and by the last Amen, we were in near full open hostilities.  I’d set my hymnal on the short wall in front of our seats, just below the safety rail.  Annette rarely wore dresses, which was great, because:

  • a man simply should not be wrestling with a girl in a dress,
  • so wrestle we did,
  • yes, in chapel. . .
  • right there in the pew,
  • in the front row of the balcony,
  • with a hymnal laying on that short wall,
  • right at knee level,
  • right where Annette kicked out as I tried to restrain her to respect the solemn ambience of the service,
  • right above some poor guy who was connecting with God and receiving guidance and insight that would change his life forever,
  • only to be badly interrupted by a hymnal from on high smashing into his head,
  • creating a campus-wide joke about “being slain in the Spirit’.

Hundreds of students and professors, heard the commotion and turned to see what had happened.  Annette and I froze in whatever wrestling pose we were in and looked out to see all those clever minds quickly putting together what had happened and liftig their eyes to us.

We risked letting go of each other just enough to silently – carefully point to one another.  No one believed either of us about whose fault it was and I don’t know if that poor guy below us ever did get the rest of the message he was in the middle of.  We didn’t see him ever again.


On a recent visit I made back to Northwest, I was able to anonymously attend another service in that same chapel.  They no longer have assigned seating, but the biggest change is that they no longer allow students up on the balcony.  They have installed a big locked doors to both stairways.

I wondered why and if I should apologize to someone, but really:

  • she started it,
  • that time.

GW bio card 4

13 thoughts on “A Song from On High

  1. Daily chapel at school with assigned seats… Not for me – my mind drifts dangerously as it is. I can imagine causing some mischief during a service, and I’m an ultra-introvert.. Maybe the guy below decided to become a physics major at at a major secular school 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jewel
      Thank you for your kind feedback.
      She was a great friend and arguably got me through college with some degree of sanity left. Her life didn’t turn out as happy as I would have wished but we are still in touch.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. No worries Ann Marie. I figured you were busy because you’re a teacher and, except for summer, most likely live in crazy mode. I’m very grateful for your sharing it whenever you made the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great story! Since I grew up as a minister’s daughter, I always appreciate a good church story. The lack of balcony seating at your Alma Mater is undoubtedly known as “The Wilson Rule.”

    Liked by 1 person

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