Over the course of the past couple months, I have had several occasions to reminisce and reflect on the past. I found myself not simply feeling nostalgic, as sometimes happens, but rather following threads and interconnections that have had real meaning in my life and our work here at Cairn. Time rolls over us like water over stones in a stream- bed, and before we realize it, years and even people have passed, leaving us with only memories. It is our choice to take this passage of time and cumulative change in life for granted or reflectively see it as God’s beautiful and gracious shaping of our lives according to His infinitely wise purposes. Time, experiences, relationships—these are the things of life, and they are not static. Like the changing of the seasons or the tides, life—and the stuff of which it is made—ebbs and flows, sometimes without our noticing and far too often without our reflection upon its meaning, lessons, and impact. When we are given moments that lend themselves to thoughtful reflection, we would do well to take advantage of those moments and allow the reflection to cause us to look forward with hopeful anticipation to what God will do. This is where I have found myself lately: wanting to not miss these moments.
In December, Dr. Jonathan Master ’98, alumnus and dean of the School of Divinity, delivered the Commence- ment address, which is presented to you in this issue of the magazine. He did an outstanding job, as did his fellow alum and dean, Dr. Lloyd Gestoso ’92 in May, when he reached his 20-year service mark last year. I asked Dr. Master to speak because he is leaving us and I wanted the Cairn community to have the chance to hear from him in this setting before he moved on to his new post as president of Greenville Presby- terian Theological Seminary in South Carolina at the end of this academic year. As I sat on the platform listening to him speak, I could not help but think back over the threads and interconnections God has woven. Jonathan is a friend and former student of mine and many others on the faculty. He has been a colleague and a leader whom I came to trust and rely upon at Cairn. But there is more warp and woof to our relationship than that. His father, who served here for many years, taught me when I was a student, served as one of my divisional chairs when I was academic dean in the late 1990s, and even into his retirement became a voice that often reminded me of the importance of grace and faith in both my life and work. I am so very grateful that Jonathan, whom I taught, and whose father taught me, taught my son and played a part in shaping his love for and understanding of God’s Word.
In January, I spent an evening with my friend and predecessor, Dr. Sherrill Babb. He was in town for the memorial service held for Miss Mae Stewart, who went home to be with the Lord on December 30. We enjoyed wonderful dinner conversation where we rehearsed so many memories of what God has done in and through the University during our respective and overlapping years here. We also enjoyed re- minding one another of the many people and the many happenings that made up those years. Again, when we stop and think about it, it is hard to miss the appointed ways in which our lives are so intricately woven together by the hand of a sovereign God. Miss Stewart’s time at Cairn was significant. So was the impact she had on the institution she loved and the people who shared her. This was a recurring theme in all the words spoken of her at her memorial service. Dr. Babb and I, along with trustee and Cairn alum Liz Mason Givens ’69, all participated in the ceremony, sharing our reflections on Miss Stewart and her life and service at Cairn. And the connections and threads that ran through her life and work were evident. Her impact will be felt for generations. That afternoon, alumni, friends, current and former faculty and staff, as well as Miss Stewart’s family and church family all came together to reflect upon her life and faithful service to God. It was a special day to not only remember her, but the way God shaped her, all of us, and this University.
So many remembrances and so much water over the stones. So much for which to be thankful. So many reasons to be hopeful and forward-thinking, anticipating how God will use the ebb and flow of life and the changes that accompany it to accomplish His purposes in us and this world in the years to come and in the lives of those who will follow us. I trust this issue will cause you to reflect and be thankful for the time and people in your own life, and that you would be encouraged to look forward to what is yet to come to pass.