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I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TIME IT WAS
September 23, 2009
 
I am here on the Close again, after a long absence. I am sitting beside a second-story window in the seminary's oldest building, looking out at the trees, which are only just starting to turn. The students have been here for about three weeks. A senior tells me that the dust has settled, more or less, and another year is underway: his last one.

Then out into the church he goes, as we all did. This is Alumni Week, so the place is full of people with varying numbers of decades between their experience here and his. Some things are utterly different: there's a new building on Ninth Avenue now. My carrel is gone, the stacks among which it sat are gone -- the whole library is gone, for that matter, moved into another building during the renovation. You enter the Close from a different street. But some things never change: students are confident or anxious, hopeful or full of despair. Almost all of them are all of these at one time or another while they're here -- a lot is packed into three years of such intense formation, and it can leave a person a little breathless from time to time.

Leaving here was hard, all those years ago. I wanted to go back -- I did go back, once a week as a tutor, my first few years out. We had felt so secure with one another, so anchored in this small world, small enough to be manageable, yet productive of more than enough drama to keep us occupied. There was always some new outrage at which to gasp, some funny human frailty exposed. My weaning from it all took a little while.

Each church has been like that, too. You love the place where you are, and you don't want to leave. You don't ever want to leave. But you do leave, and peeling yourself away from familiar people and things hurts. It hurts every time you do it, no matter how many times there are.

I guess a lifelong vocation isn't that long a time, after all. It sure looks like it will be at the beginning, when you are young, when the returning alumni all look so old. It seems that you will never be that seasoned. But before you know it, five years have gone by. Ten. Twenty. Thirty. We're just not here for very long, any of us.
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I Didn't Know What Time It Was

I didn't know what time it was
Till I met you.
Oh, what a lovely time it was,
How sublime it was too!
I didn't know what day it was
You hold my hand.
Warm like the month of May it was,
and I'll say it was grand.
Grand to be alive, to be young,
to be mad, to be yours alone!
Grand to see your face, feel your touch,
hear your voice say I'm yours alone.

I didn't know what time it was
then I met you.
Oh, what a lovely time it was,
How sublime it was too!
I didn't know what day it was
then you hold my hand.
Warm like the month of May it was,
and I'll say it was grand.
Grand to be alive, to be young,
to be mad, to be yours alone!
Grand to see your face, feel your touch,
hear your voice say I'm all your own.

I didn't know what year it was
live was no prize.
I wanted love and here it was
shining out of your eyes.
I'm wise,
and I know what time it is now.
I'm wise,
and I know what time it is now.
I'm so wise,
and I know what time it is now.
-Rodgers and Hart, 1939

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To see my alma mater, visit General Theological Seminary at www.gts.edu
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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