The Octogenarian: A Miracle on Campus

Last week I witnessed with my own old eyes the happening of a miracle on our campus.

Now hold on a minute. Did you say a miracle? Well my dictionary defines a miracle as a noun; an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause. A wonder. A marvel. A wonderful or surpassing example of some quality.”

Okay, so the miracle I witnessed fit that definition exactly except it was not necessarily supernatural (unless you believe in the hand of God). My miracle came from man, humankind, and even more from the heart of man.

Here is the background of our miracle. I recently ran into a small group on campus called Jews on Campus.  I found that they were planning a small event to celebrate a centuries’ old holiday called Sukkot (pronounced in English, suek-ose). This is a celebration of the harvest, and today it is celebrated around the world by the building of a structure in the place of celebration. That structure called a Sukkah. It is small hut, open to the sky, and represents the structures built by the ancient Jewish farmers in the middle of their fields where they stayed until harvest was completed. Also, as part of the Jewish Laws of Charity and as part of the celebration, the people gathering in the crops would leave some in the field for the benefit of the poor and the wildlife.

So, is this the Jewish miracle I am talking about?  Well no, the Red Sea has already been parted. This miracle is a homegrown Bearkat miracle.

To continue, I am an old man, and I have limitations.  Among them is a mind that thinks like a 45-year-old, but every time my mind orders this old body to act, it is reminded of my decrepit condition. So I called on my get-it-done girl, my wife Judy, and the next thing you know, there is a Sukkah being constructed on campus by members of JOC with Judy’s help.

Location became an issue to me and resulted in my becoming entangled with our school bureaucracy. You see, all of us students know that when a group wants to reach their fellow students on campus, they set up a tent, display or table outside in front of the Lowman Student Center.  I found the group setting up their Sukkah in that newly developed open field behind the LSC and this bothered me.

Now understand that I just transferred here to SHSU from an institution of higher learning that had numerous extracurricular activities, that when approved by the school, were checked out for the safety of the students and then supported by the school.  Here at Sam, it appears the policy is a little different in that if an extracurricular activity is approved, the safety of the school is covered and then permission is granted. Different, but okay. I understand and you work within the system.

This past Friday I did something I never do, I skipped a class, a class I really enjoy. Instead I went to the office of the president of our university. I was not expecting to meet with her but I looking to start a process of help.

I found a bureaucratic system in place where I was treated royally while being shuffled from office to office, painlessly and nicely enough by a team of real professionals of whom the school executives can be proud. I wound up back with the original source of my problem, which got me nowhere. Five hours later, I had a great meeting where I was promised action but the action wasn’t acceptable.

But dear reader, let me get back to the miracle.  Now here is the plan: based on the university’s suggestion that included none of the help I requested, the group rejected the school and planned to proceed.

Now that is fine except for a conversation I was privy to between Mother Nature and God.  As I best remember, it went something like this, “Hey God, it’s me Mamma Nature. Did you see where those Jewish kids at Sam Houston State University are planning to put food out for up to two hundred students and invited guests onto tables supplied by the school if they are willing to carry them down the mountain to the location the school has stuck them with and set up out there in the open?

Well I, as Mama Nature, already have a couple of typhoons going in the Pacific and a hurricane in the Atlantic. And none of my blizzards are available this early in the season, so I think I’ll just chip in for my part and I’m going to contribute an 80 percent chance of rain, thunderstorms and wind just to spice things up.”  God just grunted and shook his head thinking this will be easy.

And lo and behold, the day came and so did the rain. The deluge, as those of us out in it remember, fell. Not drops of rain but a pouring on of water. Yes, the wind came, too, ripping across our open campus and the Sukkah, unprotected by the enormity of the Lowman Student Center and its trees out in the front, went crashing into the soggy ground.

And so, that was the miracle at Sam Houston State University.

As is said in the 1773 hymn by William Cowper, the first line of which has become an adage to justify special happenings, paraphrased, “He works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform”.

You see, the first-down mountain building next to our school’s ill-chosen site for the Jewish event is the Baptist Student Ministry. Here are the Jews, looking for a home as they have been doing on and off for 6,000 years or so. And to the rescue, our campus division of the Baptist Student Ministry, who not only came out to help construct the ill-fated Sukkah, but when Mother Nature poured on the adversity, our Baptist students stepped in and volunteered their building and the help of their people to host this Jewish event.

Remember way back in the beginning of this article under the dictionary definition of a miracle the phrase “a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality?”

Was the event a success? Well, weather kept some people who had intended to attend away, but in my memories, Jews often measure the success or memorability of an event by its food consumption and this event went through some of the most delicious, rich, chocolate brownies that Judy has ever made. Over ten dozen bagels, cream cheese and a couple of cream cheese spreads, brownies, fresh vegetables and dips, two kugels, a sort of noodle pudding, (one sweet cinnamon and vanilla with apple raison and apricot in a cream base and the other more of a savory with caramelized onions and mushrooms). The one that seemed to be the favorite of the Baptist students I talked to was the latter and more brownies, assorted homemade cookies, and a comradery that could not be measured.  And, as an added bonus for the small children that were there, an early surprise personal visit with of all people, Santa Claus.

Talk about your interfaith outreach. Talk about miracles!

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