By Frances George
Last week I was on campus and found myself parked in a parking lot next to the Stacy Riddle Forum. This beautiful brick and columned building houses the women’s Panhellenic sorority meeting rooms. As I sat in the car in the late afternoon, waiting for my daughter to get out of class to meet me for a quick dinner, I noticed the exquisite stained glass in a set of windows. There is a chapel in the building. To me, that says a great deal. What it does not say is sometimes as important as what it says. A chapel does not say all is rosy all the time. Sometimes freshmen, sophomores, juniors and even seniors have tough days on campus and off. Perhaps there is a class in which you can’t seem to keep your head above water, there is a roommate who has turned out to be less than what you expected, someone has crushed your hopes for the weekend or simply, home seems very far away right now. College is not always the best of the best…on the surface. But there is the chapel. And in that chapel there is hope. And hope is a cornerstone of who Baylor is. It is not a “hope for,” a wish that may or may not come to fruition but rather a hope in what I know to be true and in that hope I can place my trust and know it will be alright because someone bigger than myself is in control. That is Baylor.
Here in this building, a building which represents fun and philanthropy, scholarship and sisterhood all rolled up in one package, there is a room, not tucked away in the back, not given as the leftovers of the building budget, but rather a lovely space with stained glass, prominently positioned in the very front of the building, as soon as you walk in…to your right. Perfectly placed, I’d say. You can’t miss it and that’s the point.
Because you see, even in college, in Greek life, in academic life, Baylor knows where the anchor is and they have built their institution on that very firm Foundation and it is on display around campus for all to see. Because Baylor knows that no roommate will always be there for you like Christ will be. No sorority sister will understand every crisis, no boyfriend will ever love you perfectly, and a perfect 4.0 GPA will not guarantee perfect peace. But Christ will do all of those things and more and weather every storm for four years and more. And yet just like stained glass, you can’t see through it. You can’t see what’s inside from being on the outside. And while that may seem discouraging at first and you may wonder, “Why can’t I see it all right now?” upon closer investigation, a different vantage point, and over time, what was once opaque displays its most spectacular beauty from within and becomes the most encouraging encounter ever. You were never intended to see it only from the outside. The real beauty comes from within. Opaque from the outside but complete peace inside where the light streams through the colored glass and creates a beautiful view only known to those who have ventured to come inside. So much like the college years…arriving on campus that first day, not knowing, not seeing it all clearly but somehow knowing, “this is the place” and by the end, when you walk across the platform, diploma in hand, you realize you’ve made your way “inside” and all things are clear and more beautiful than you could have imagined. Illumination from the Son through the stained glass. That’s the beauty of Baylor.
Baylor not only acknowledges that truth in its philosophy you read in print but Baylor intentionally puts it on display in its buildings, on its buildings, and on the “playlist” of the bells that echo from the lovely old centerpiece Pat Neff Hall each day, hymns that ring out across the campus with the sound of hope. Just this past week my daughter texted me saying, “Mom, the bells are playing my favorite song! Listen!” and she held the phone up to the breeze and I heard an old familiar tune of hope. In the late semester as December and exams are ahead, Christmas carols seem to remind the students that hope is not far off or “That Good Old Baylor Line” reminds the students that we are a family bound by more than classrooms and grades.
So as the semester begins anew for the classes of 2018, ’19, ’20, and ’21, and as your student is looking for a place to call home for the next four years, consider Baylor. When I consider the great things that occur in college and even when I consider the hard times in college, challenges that every student will face in one form or another, there is no other place I’d rather have my daughter walk through them than at Baylor where a chapel is only a few steps away and where the music on the afternoon breeze reminds our students, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
And that is the Baylor difference.