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Meet Me at Jubilee... One Alum's Thoughts About This Special Year

By Kristen Cnossen Nichols

I’m not even sure anymore how long the magnet has been on our refrigerator, but I remember receiving it in the mail and thinking, “Wow, July 2005—that’s a long way off.” That black rectangle with its image of Dordt’s seal in stained glass has been holding up snapshots for a couple of years now, and suddenly here it is, the spring of 2005. The Jubilee gathering in Sioux Center is just around the corner. Of course it’s cliché to say this, but time really does fly.

Maybe it is the reality that I turned thirty this year. Maybe it is the career changes God’s led me to make. Maybe it is the fact that my husband and I are expecting our first child. Most likely it is a combination of all of these factors that is making me exceedingly conscious of time these days—how quickly it passes, how much things change, but then predictably, how much remains constant as well. At once I can feel the distance that nearly a decade has created between the present and my days at Dordt College, but on the other hand, that small black magnet along with a recent momentary glimpse of two familiar faces in an e-mail brought it all back very quickly.

Not long ago I opened my e-mail to find the alumni newsletter from my district representatives, Faith (Rylaarsdam) Rietveld and Val Wigboldy, and suddenly I was back in time, back on campus, carrying a red folder full of information about my first week of college, Faith walking beside me and telling me the important things like where to find my mail and when it was the best time to get to the commons. Suddenly I was remembering meeting Val, and then running into her sometimes late at night in the library and always leaving those conversations grinning. I started connecting, remembering others besides these two, and started down that winding road of memory—six degrees of separation, Dordt-style—and found myself laughing about the night we went mud sliding on the soccer field. (Can I still apologize ten years later for the mounds of mud we left in the showers of East Hall?)

There have been times when I wished I could just get all of the people from those days together again, sometimes just out of curiosity, like a class reunion, but more often as a chance to see where God’s led them all. Sure, my days at Dordt were filled with the gift of getting to know some really wonderful people. But it has been in the eight years since I graduated that I’ve started to grasp what it means to share a common vision, a common understanding of the world, a common belief that all of our lives are lived before the face of God. I always knew that the education I was getting and the friendships I was making were unique, but it took moving to Southern California to realize that even when I lost touch with so many of the people from my life at that time, the knowledge of them and of our bond in Christ still carries me in a society that can sometimes seem so foreign. It took the repeated realization that all that carries the label “Christian” is not truly so.

Thousands of us have walked through those four years, experiencing what my husband enviously calls a “real college education” that helped shape our vision of the world, one that acknowledges the truth in Abraham Kuyper’s famous quote: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of human existence over which Christ, who is sovereign over all, does not cry: ‘Mine!’” It was during my years at Dordt that I was able to bring together all the strands of my Christian upbringing and braid them into a cohesive view of the world, a view that would give me strength and peace at the same time, and a view that is foundational to the way I look at life.

Each day my life marches forward. As time passes, the details of life change—students graduate, then become people with careers and children who experience momentary lapses into memory. In these quiet moments I smile to think of almost a decade ago. I take joy in realizing that this truly is a year of Jubilee, a year of restoration and reassurance, and a year to take every opportunity to reconnect with the others who share our foundations.