The Day they Repossessed my College Education.

Night.  And silence.

Silence made bigger by the exceptions which prove its rule,

the cat snoring, and the refridgerator droning to the wall.

Night and silence.

And the telephone doesn’t ring at 3 Am,

it shrieks in the silence.

I fumble for it before I am awake.

And a calm voice, almost bored.  Announces.

I am here to repossess your college education.

I am sorry.  I knew I was behind on repaying my loans.

I am here to repossess your college education.

There must be some mistake.  I will do better.

There are these burly little men.

Small enough to squeeze out of the holes in the listening part of the telephone.

They pop out and plod their way up my ear.

They wear tiny work boots.

and they have tiny picky axes.

They’d be cute

if they weren’t

busying themselves

at hacking away at my brains.

They fill up these burlap bags.

With memories of the best pot I ever smoked.

And apple fritters and air hockey at the student union.

And some classes, and a few things I learned.

They march out.

Ladened with bags that are full.

I have hung up the phone but they do not fret.

They walk underneath the closed front door.

They do not have to duck.

The little burly men

who came to repossess my college education.

Will turn it over to their bosses.

Who will sell my education off.

To pay back the loans I had fallen behind on.

It will make a dent.

In the sum that I owed.

A few months later.

I recieve a bill in the mail.

For the balance outstanding.

I can’t pay it off.

I’m not college educated anymore.

I’m making minimum wage.

Because I never bothered to learn any skills.



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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

2 thoughts on “The Day they Repossessed my College Education.”

  1. sometimes, most of the time, I don’t understand poetry. I probably don’t understand the direct circumstances that are described in this poem, but I felt very sad at the end of it.

    i think it becomes many of our stories who go through college and see life after college as a lot harder and has little to do with the education we strived hard to learn because we felt it would help us change the world.

    good work Jeff.


  2. Thanks, Steve. I was trying to capture this really wierd feeling– a goofy kind of sadness…. and part of that was this real cynicism about the value of my college education.
    I wasn’t feeling this all the way, just halfway… often when I write, it’s not totally in my voice, but not completely made up either.


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