In finishing a month of celebrating 125 years of Ouachita Baptist University, they've asked for blog posts about What does Ouachita mean today or how has it helped you get to where you are today?
That's a tough one. If you've read the prior posts in the OBU BlogAbout, both mine and others, you'll get a glimpse of how many of us have gotten where we are thanks to our alma mater. What else can be said?
I've spoken of Ouachita as home, of professors that remain an inspiration, and of friends made and lost along the way. OBU has contributed to the fabric of both our state and our nation, to the heritage and culture, and to the religious tides in Baptist life.
Has my OBU degree opened doors for me? I think so---but I can't guarantee that it opened doors that a UA degree wouldn't have. Have I worked my Ouachita Alumni network? Not too much, but maybe a little. I haven't been called on by our famous political alums, like Mike Huckabee or Mark Darr, for any great purposes. The great religious leaders that sprouted from OBU don't call me for sermon tips. (or with sermon tips, though I could use some )
I was a student at OBU when maintenance, in their infinite quest to fill the hours, built the lovely decorative wall around the main part of campus. It's not one that could be used to keep anyone out or in. I'm not sure what the purpose was for it, other than a hard point to mow against. Yet we had a lot of conversations around campus in those days about "life beyond the wall" and how we lived in a bubble on-campus.
As if the real world couldn't touch us and we weren't actually dealing with it. As if there was no connection between where we were and what we would be. As if it wouldn't echo back in the days to come.
But it does. The academics are there for future access, the relationships are part of life, but the time spent. Ouachita may wall out certain things, but there wasn't spoon-feeding when I was there. We learned to find for ourselves what we needed. It was a time that fed my faith while challenging my faith. The nearest moment to it was the satisfaction of a Boy Scout experience that required a lot of effort to cook a single egg. That was about the best egg I've ever eaten: more for the work than the flavor! Yet OBU was more than physical nourishment and challenge. Really, the stairs up to the 3rd floor of Conger Hall were more difficult than PE courses.
I grew, I learned to fight hard for truth that had been hard won. I learned when the OBU-ABSC relationship was a little rocky that even friends have disagreements and that right was more important than history.
Life beyond the wall hasn't been that much different. The bills are bigger, but the paychecks are a little bigger to pay them. The friends are fewer but deeper. The challenge remains the same:
Take the faith, take the knowledge, take the study and do something with it.
Don't think about the assignment. Write it. Don't consider serving. Put on a t-shirt and get your hands dirty. Don't think about speaking. Get up and say it. Savor the moments that make the life, because it's fleeting.
All this was a part of OBU, but it's a part of every day life now.
What does Ouachita mean today? How am I where I am because of OBU?
Because God works through nouns: people, places, and things are in His hands to accomplish His purposes. Ouachita is that noun for much of what I've learned that I go back to when I'm weak, tired and worn.
It's a good place. I wouldn't trade my years with OBU for anything. Not even a complete elimination of student loan debt