December 10, 2008
President Kenneth A. Smith
Beaver Falls, PA 15010
Dear Dr. Smith,
Though I know you are a very busy man, I hope you can find just a few moments in your day to hear these confessions from a father of one of your students.
First, I swiped the photograph which you see in this letter, taken at your Family Day back in November, from Geneva’s website. I am ashamed to admit that not only have I posted it here, but also on my computer desktop and my blog where this letter can also be found. (As Augustine in his Confessions shows, identifying particular vices and making them public is good for the soul’s cleansing.) Though I should have asked permission, the beauty of the picture was too great to resist. Certainly you can sympathize with my weakness and find it in your heart to absolve me? Especially when you consider that I had even contemplated – but then strongly resisted the temptation! – asking you for a tuition break for helping advertise your fine institution in such a lovely way?
My second confession is that I grew a bit angry with you, as the head of Geneva, back in August. After leaving my little girl at your college, the next three days I literally felt like my heart had broken. It was like someone had died! This sweet daughter of mine, who for nineteen years had filled our home with joy, music, and love, was now gone. That I could have borne. Yet when I called her during those dark days of my soul, her voice did not sound quite like mine did. Oh, sure, she said she missed me, but she kept giggling afterwards which I did not think was very funny. She could not quite hide her excitement over such things as the new roommates she had, dining on a riverboat in Pittsburgh, or the classes she was looking forward to taking. Since I could not blame her, I blamed you for making the transition so painless. So please excuse my anger. But could you not at least consider instituting a two-day period of mourning for incoming students?
Having sat under your father’s preaching for three years, I know the importance of heart applications of the law as is especially taught in the final commandment. So my final confession (I hope you are sitting down at this point) is that I secretly hoped Geneva might fail for my daughter. I had a black little hope that she might be so homesick, not like her classes, or at least miss the pastor back here so much that she would want to come back to Indiana. Instead, she has so many new friends we cannot remember all their names, has loved her courses and especially the music program, and is actually growing amazingly well in the church out there.
Thank you for reading my confessions. I know that looking at these things is never pretty. But, as Augustine explains it, neither was the desire for the pears that he stole.