Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Derick Bingham.
One of the most influential professors I have ever had.

I have been putting off this post, because I am not sure I can adequately describe to you Derick's presence in my life, without my words sounding trite and empty. However, I want to make an attempt, because I have found my heart filling with thoughts and feelings which will soon erupt if I don't express them in some way.

Derick was one of the first people to believe in my writing, and that will always mean the world to me. In his literature class I learned to love words. He taught us to "dig" with our pens and write with our hearts. We were given 2,000 word essays to complete in an hour, and I was crazy about them. We read all sorts of Irish short stories, full, vibrant poems, and even acted out "Dancing at Lughnasa" in our tiny living room at Lakeside. The words always came to life...we could taste the ripe blackberries in Seamus Heaney's poem, and our eyes watered at the death of the grocer in Oranges from Spain. Through each story and poem, we learned more about life. Derick taught us to sift through the words to find truth. More than caring about our academic performance, Derick was most interested in the condition of our hearts.

Class was a relaxed affair, him telling story after story from the stuffed chair and us gathered around hanging on to each word. Irish mornings were perfect for reading. He would often stay for lunch, wanting to spend more time with us and talk more about life. I would make him coffee in hopes to stretch the time out longer. I miss his gentle voice, and the excited way he would tell us of some new discovery of God working.

One of the first assignments he gave us was to write a poem about the incarnation, his face beamed when he talked about God's mysterious ways. He so desperately wanted us to understand that we can never know how great an impact some of our smallest actions may have. One word, one extension of grace, one gift of forgiveness could change someone's life. He taught us that it is not in the grand, or the lavish, but in the simple and ordinary of every day where depth of life is most often found.

Derick dreamed big, and he dreamed for us. He told me to write books...and I know he believed that I could. He lived out the things he taught us. The encouragement he wanted us to be - he was. The knowledge of that "life beyond the wardrobe" he wanted us to have - he glowed with. In his quiet ways, he instilled in us a desperate fervor for God.

Derick also made us all C.S. Lewis fanatics, and one of my favorite quotes he would recite is from Lewis’ book The Last Battle the quote is in reference to death, "The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

That is what I think of when I think of heaven, and that is the beautiful joy I know Derick experiences now. Somehow I think he can still see us here, and I think he is cheering us on, just as he always did.

Thank you, Derick.

1 comment:

Richie said...

I always loved it when he would read our works back to us... that man could read a phone book out loud and make it sound like poetry. =0)