Point of View
George Fox ruined my life
by Kelly Riechers
A few days ago, I was stunned to realize it has been almost a year since I graduated from George Fox. I can still feel the way my black robe itched and how my cap tipped awkwardly, making the tassel dance. I recall the rushed trip to Chapters Books to pick up my last Americano as an undergraduate student, making me late to line up for commencement. And I remember especially well the sense of finality which rested in my belly the whole day — knowing that this was the end of an era in my life.
Days earlier, I spoke about this ending in chapel, expressing to my peers the magnitude of change that took place during my time at Fox. To put it simply, I said, George Fox ruined my life.
A proverb helps describe this undoing: “I am a blind man in a dark room, looking for a black cat that isn’t there.”
During my years at Fox, I became blind, entered that room, shut the lights off, and have been looking for that cat ever since.
You see, my freshman year, I thought I'd graduate and become a hip book editor living my dream in Portland. And secretly, I hoped that I would write the next great American novel. Now, I find myself in Thailand trying to help women in the commercial sex industry leave that work.
Five years ago, I was comfortable in my narrow-minded view of politics, and now I’m just unsettled and confused. And I suspect party lines serve to separate us and give us false justifications to hurt one another.
I must admit too, I also thought I’d be engaged by now, or at least have the potential for someone, but I don’t. And I am pretty sure when I arrive home in December, no handsome man will be waiting for me with open arms; unless you count my little brother. I’m content with this reality though.
I walked into my dorm five years ago feeling really sure about all my Christian beliefs. In my years at Fox, I came to believe in a God who is a Mystery and a Paradox and a lot bigger and more encompassing than I’ll ever be able to imagine. And I no longer see Jesus as this crisp, good ol’ boy, but as one so dangerous in his radical love and mercy — loving the prostitutes, the crooks, the ugly, diseased, and poor — that we killed him.
And the crux of my ruination at Fox is that I’ve realized I’m called to live radically too. I’m called to suffer with Christ and maybe even die. And the odd part in all this is, I might be OK with that.
Thus, I say again: “I am a blind person in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn’t there.” But I’ve realized God calls us to faith amidst darkness and that I cannot live a radical life if I switch on the lights and take matters into my own hands. And perhaps God is that darkness which envelops me, and to enter into that room is to enter into God’s heart.
As this year’s commencement approaches, I recall the future I once saw as mine, and I am grateful to say again, George Fox ruined my life.
Kelly Riechers graduated in 2007 with a double major in writing/literature and philosophy. Her family owns a farm in Eugene, Ore., but she currently lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She works with Garden of Hope, an organization that reaches out to women in the commercial sex industry and children who are at risk of being lured into the sex trade. This spring, a May Serve trip led by professors Roger and Sue Newell will travel to Chiang Mai to assist Kelly and others at Garden of Hope.