I didn't know Dr. D. (as his student's called him) very well. Although I was a student at Gordon, he was never my professor; and although I now work at the College rarely did we interact.
However, for all of last year, his office was right around the corner from mine. Nearly every day I would see Dr. D walk past my office, I would hear him stop, backpedal a few feet, take one step into my office and with a smirk on his face say, "Hello. How are you?" I would respond with a cordial "I'm doing well. How are you?"
"I'm doing just fine" he would always reply. He would then spin on his heel and leave my office.
Initially I though this was a bit weird. But he kept stopping by my office. He kept asking how I was doing.
One day he walked past my office and I must have appeared a bit "disheveled." On this particular day he walked fully into my office, sat down and simply said, "Can I pray for you?"
I was a bit startled. First, because we didn't know each other well but more so because somehow it just seemed he knew I was having a difficult day. He asked that the Lord would give me strength and faith and thanked the Lord for his constant grace.
After he finished he looked at me with that same smirk and said, "goodbye", spun and his heel and left.
The more I saw Dr. D around campus the more I realized this wasn't an unusual thing for him to do. It seemed he was always chatting and praying with students.
Finally it clicked: Dr. D loved others so well. He didn't know me but that didn't prevent him from caring deeply about me.
Yesterday there was a service allowing for the campus to mourn together. Ironically, a few students decided it would be funny to place metal knives in about twenty hymnals earlier that day. They, of course, had no idea that the next service in this building would be one of sadness. As we rose to sing "It Is Well With My Soul" the hymnals were opened and every one of those twenty knives slid to the floor. The prank was affective, but unfortunately a bit untimely.
At first I was angry. HOW INSENSITIVE!!!!!!!
Then I pictured Dr. D watching this service. And, with that giant smirk on his face, laughing every time one of those knives clanged on the ground.
Somehow his life was so beautifully captured in that moment: deep and powerful hymns and the silliness of a college prank.
I think he would have preferred it no other way.