I love Preview Weekends.
I have plenty of reasons not to. As a student worker, I spends Saturdays single-handedly covering both the library and the front desk. It’s not an incredibly heavy workload, but for those few hours I am the first resource for a steady stream of students needing anything from paperclips to paper sources.
So Preview Weekends mean current students asking for the usual assistances and the addition of prospective students in need of directions and full of questions. Preview Weekends mean I’m in the building for twice as many hours as normal Saturdays, they mean my mutt Oliver is missing his weekly outing to the dog park. Preview Weekends mean I don’t get even a page of my own research done all day.
And yet, I love the Preview Weekends.
Being at the front desk, I get to see the prospectives as they first enter. I see their hope thinly masking an underlying anxiety, and I remember my first time in this building, remember traveling three thousand thick miles to this three-story brick building that had been built up so much bigger in my mind. I remember both the ideals that brought me and the confusion that I, a woman who had planned on being a librarian, found myself studying theology. I remember noticing the urban cool of exposed brick walls from a warm seat on an overstuffed leather couch and thinking, yes, I want to study right here, in this seat.
Throughout the day I answer the questions of these maybe-someday pastors or counselors and hear myself explain all that this school aims to do, explain all that we do well, explain (with more compassion than I feel most days) where the school is struggling to do better.
Tonight, I walk through the building with many sets of eyes. I see the building as it first welcomed me. I see the classrooms on my first days, feeling like a stranger in a foreign land. I see the halls with many previous art exhibits, I see the second floor as classes and conferences and two distinct Christmas parties. I see the offices as intimidating administration, and I see the same offices as the places of mentors and friends. As I move, I’ve been flipping off light switches, but I walk without need of light. I forgot to wash my coffee mug before darkening everything, and do so quickly before leaving, in the dark, the faucet as familiar to me as if I really did live here.
The weekend is a reminiscence of the ideals that brought me here, a remembrance of the ideals the school holds, a reminder of the good work of theology, the good work of psychology, and the good work of finding their intersections. In daily life here, I tend to get tired down, to see the failings and the shortcomings, to struggle with what can be done better. I despair. But through the eyes of these visitors from across the nation, I’m reminded of the hope that is housed in this building and how far I’ve really come—it’s such a greater distance than those first three thousand miles.