Some things never change. As I walked into Tyndale the other week, I was immediately greeted by two students who were praying together in the hallway for one another. I also was greeted by hugs, laughter, and high fives from the many friends I still have here, and was invited to walk in the woods with a student as we shared testimonies together. This is Tyndale. This is a school where the young and mature co-exist with each other. Where the residents and commuters learn from each other, and where opportunities to be yourself and discover who you really are in Christ abound. This is a place where chapels and classes form us and where we can keep relationships with professors and faculty well after our graduation. I am grateful for this place. For this safe haven. My home away from L’Arche as I like to call it.
Unfortunately, when I was at Tyndale I did not truly appreciate it in the same way that I do today. To be honest, I did have a wonderful time at Tyndale for the most part. As I look back on my three years spent there I have many wonderful memories of lasting friendships I have created with some of the most caring men and women I have ever met. It is in these friendships that I have discovered a mutual trust, accountability, and attitude toward prayer. Coming back to the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] has been a most welcomed experience for me because here is where many of my closest friends are and it truly feels like home. Not only did my friends shape my time at Tyndale, but also the classes and the professors. I remember many classes where we were out in the community learning and growing alongside others, many special lectures that took place, and many times when I came back from a class challenged not just academically but to spiritually integrate things in my life as well. I enjoyed many aspects of Tyndale from the pick up floor hockey on Friday nights (where no one ever complained about my poor stick handling) to intramurals where my roomate and I became so competitive that she locked me out of the dorm one night to volunteering on my weekends. It was also at Tyndale that I truly felt that I always had options of places to go for whatever need might arise – solitude, renewal, and retreats.
Nevertheless I needed to be away from the Tyndale bubble for one year to discover the enormous impact this school has had on my life. That’s not to say that Tyndale is perfect. Actually, there are certain things that I wish were different about Tyndale as I would for any other institution. Yet, even in its flaws I have discovered that Tyndale can be and is a healing place. Tyndale is a place where we can be real with one another and come to community broken.
The difficulty is that this experience is short lived. The majority of us are at Tyndale for three of maybe four years. Some of us may choose to further our education here at the B Ed or Sem level, but even then we are only here for 6 or 7 years maximum. We eventually leave this place and are thrust into a world that is not as caring as this environment. A world where being a Christian is not always easy – a world where ceasing your devotional life becomes more intriguing, and where not everyone has the same morals as you.
It can be difficult to be thrust into such a world after Tyndale. A world that is no longer conservative and focused on Christ. To be honest, it can be scary at first to be surrounded by the culture of alcohol and drugs and in which partying is the norm. How do you stay true to your Christian identity in such a culture? Some of us are fortunate enough to remain living in the GTA where we have an outlet at Tyndale to come back to frequently. Where we still have friends who we can pray with, go for coffee with, and theologize with. Others of us will find that we are increasingly more alone, especially those of us who never did find our spouse at “Bridal College”.
When I think about Tyndale now, 15 months after my BRE [Bachelor of Religious Education] graduation, I think there are two lessons that I ultimately want to put out there for everyone who is going through the motions ready to quit school and just feeling like they don’t care what they are learning anymore.
The first lesson is to really savour this time. Tyndale is an experience unlike any other and you only get to have it once in your life. Don’t rush through your time here, but take time to truly savour the experiences of always have friends around you, being with people who truly care, and learning how to have a solid Spiritual life. Try to be appreciative of what this school offers to you and take advantage of everything you can – from free tutoring to the writing center to free counseling and Spiritual direction.
The second lesson is to learn that Tyndale is temporary. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that you will be a Tyndale lifer… I thought that for 2.5 years of my time there, but there is a season to everything and eventually you will be done your time here. You have to learn how to take the lessons you have gleaned from Tyndale and use them in a hostile world. How to find community after you have left such a solid community, and how to find Spiritual disciplines after Tyndale when people around you really don’t care whether you follow them or not.
I truly hope that regardless of how long you stay at Tyndale that this will be a once in a life time experience for you and that you will make many friends and make a lasting impact on the community in any way that you can. Always remember that God walks beside you, even in those late night papers.