We wrote our Canons of Dort test this morning. As I’d mentioned in the last post, this was the last of our Three Forms of Unity tests, having had two on the Catechism and one on the Belgic Confession. These are big and important moments and a lot of work goes into preparing for them; they’re milestones for freshmen. While I can’t speak for the others, I was quite intimidated by the thought of memorizing the Catechism and being very familiar with the other confessions. So, having arrived at the end, today was a big day.
We all deal with big days differently. If you’re anything like me, you’re quite relaxed the morning of, notwithstanding the dark cloud of foreboding that stretches in every direction. You look at yourself in the mirror, brush your teeth, put your wedding ring on. You perform your routine as you would on the morning of your execution, less as a favour to anyone else and more as a reminder of your dignity. You go to school and the teacher hands out the test; and as your dingy nears the lip of Niagara Falls, so to speak, you rest on your oars, lean back, and holler with your inside voice.
The test itself is a whirlwind. Actually, it’s more of a frantic rummaging about in your brain, not unlike the feeling you have when you’re looking for that tax receipt that’s supposed to be in the drawer, but isn’t. You open mental drawer after mental drawer and you’re relieved to find that the receipt wasn’t in the desk at all, but on the counter, right where you left it. You scribble down answer after answer, purging that cloud of foreboding onto the paper in the form of barely legible handwriting. It’s frantic, but it’s also valiant. You hit the rejection of errors in full stride, but you stumble. It doesn’t matter, though, because your overall performance was strong and controlled and you experience a feeling of honest satisfaction. The hours spent with the flashcards, peppered with some whining to your wife, have paid off.
As you can imagine, there’s a wonderful sense of relief that goes with handing in the test. But what’s often not considered after everyone has gone home, is whether or not there’s been any long-term damage. You might hear horror stories of ministers waking up at night in a cold sweat, their terrified wives telling them they were shouting gibberish. Later, it’s discovered that they were rejecting Arminian errors, but backwards, and in Greek. This is sometimes called “crossing your wires,” but it’s also been called “post-traumatic stress disorder.”
One of the nice things about having the Three Forms of Unity tests on Fridays is the opportunity to wind down afterwards at Pipes & Steins. Seeing as we normally have a ball together, and seeing as we had just written a test on the Canons of Dort, you could say that this afternoon we had a Canon Ball. There were a couple surprises, one of them being that third-year Gerrit took his days-old son, Peter, along. Then, when freshman David showed up, he said, “Guess who I saw in the library today?”
“I don’t know, David. Who?”
Freshman Jon’s been in Brazil the last five or six weeks, sort of getting married. That is, although in Brazil him and his other are legally married, they haven’t updated their Facebook status yet. That won’t happen until December when the wedding happens. The whole thing does make sense, but you have to know all the details. Anyways, nobody seemed to know when he was coming back, so David’s running into him in the seminary library was quite a surprise. And, of course, so was Jon’s showing up for Pipes & Steins. We shook his hand, asked him about his trip; he showed us his tan.
We’ve got a quiet two weeks left before the exams, with all the major tests and assignments behind us. This weekend I will be reflecting on 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, having been assigned that text by Dr. Visscher for Homiletics. I have to come up with a rough sermon outline. After I’ve posted this post, I’m going to take my little radio to the kitchen, tune into the Blue Jays game, and do some Hebrew homework. A good Friday night.
Welcome to Pipes & Steins, Peter!