A couple of months ago I was able to rummage a copy of Rappings on the garbage bin of Grace Bible Church, Rappings is a 1971 literary portfolio of Wheaton College seminarians that was compiled by the late Robert Webber, who was then an Associate Professor of Theology at Wheaton the portfolio is an attempt to give wider circulation to the thinking, the probing and the challenging questions of young Christians at the time.
I consider it a miracle that I was able to find this at church where at times I share the same feelings of guilt, frustration towards many things related to my personal faith in God, and my relationships with people at church –that is to say not so great at the moment. Moreover, I consider this a miracle as I have found a sense of empathy with the words that were written in Rappings, particularly because their poetry provides an affinity with my present state where again I am reminded that I am at a lost –and that I do not know everything –and it is in that not knowing everything that I am (as we all are,) rendered into what can be called a re-orientation of faith as it is now derived not with intellectual congruence in systematic theological formulations or in what is seen as ‘sound doctrine’ but in an encounter with the Living Word which confronts us to boldly live faith in the context of hope…
It is in this context of hope that I found this piece of poetry from an unknown * seminarian most worthy of reflection:
Out in the cold I stand,
Looking on at the world sitting tight,
With its people in their nice little world,
And the friends who don’t even know me.
It makes no difference to their world where I am.
If I’m there, it keeps going;
If I’m not, it goes on,
While I walk around, wandering, wondering,
My mind a mass of mixed-up machinery,
Clashing with conflicts and unanswered questions.
I don’t ask if the world is real—
It sits up there on its foundations,
Secure, concrete, hard and stone and real.
But I’m not real—
Or if I am maybe I shouldn’t be.
They answer, “Smile, God loves you.”
But I can’t smile.
I’m numbed by cold inside and out.
Even in the heat in the square brick buildings
Would only warm my body, nothing else.
I’m alone in a world full of people,
Apart, shut up inside myself,
in a cold
* found as it appears above, written on an ink blotter on an empty desk in Fischer Hall.