I don't like
to be late. I may cut it close, but I'm usually not late. I clearly
remember the occasion when I went to hear a guest lecturer and arrived at
the last minute. It was at a church-affiliated school, and the dean of
chapel was serving as usher that night. He strongly believed that people
should sit in front. He was a short man with thick glasses, and I suppose
he could see people better if they weren't so far away. I'll have to agree
that it must be disheartening for a speaker to face rows and rows of empty
I was with a
small group of friends. I've forgotten what delayed us, but as we arrived,
the dean motioned us to the remaining empty places in the first occupied
row. The dean hadn't been entirely successful. There were a few empty rows
ahead of that.
out that there was one seat too few in the row to which we were directed.
As the least aggressive in the group, I was last in line. That meant I was
the one left without a seat. There was nothing to do but to sit in the
next row forward. The dean was gesturing, everyone was watching, and the
speaker was ready to begin.
speaker's name was Rehwinkel. He was a seminary professor, a world
traveler, a historian and an author. I was prepared for an intellectual
presentation. I knew of one of his books, "The Flood," which
included impressive geological evidence linked to that cataclysmic event.
Rehwinkel spoke of many things. I recall his insistence on the importance
of learning about the past. He urged us to be diligent in studying
history. He said, for example, that we would understand Russia today if we
were thoroughly acquainted with the Russia of the past.
Professor Rehwinkel was aging, he had a commanding presence. The seating
arrangement had put me on the spot, but I felt privileged to be in close
proximity to this recognized scholar.
course of his opening remarks he found an opportunity to call attention to
the fact that I was sitting in a row by myself. He suggested it would be
well if some nice young man would come and sit with me.
No one did,
but I still smile at the memory. Professor Rehwinkel noticed me. He
wouldn't have if I hadn't been sitting alone in front.
A number of
years later I was visiting a bookstore connected with a church publishing
house and found the biography Professor Rehwinkel had written about his
wife and her work. She had been a doctor in the days when woman doctors
were rare, and, what is more, she had practiced medicine in Wyoming when
it was a primitive frontier.
the name and bought the book as my fitting tribute to the distinguished
professor who thought that some young gentleman should come and sit with
A few years
after writing this account for a class assignment, I shared it with a new
friend, and he invited me to sit with him in church. So I did.
toward the back.)