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A Letter

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*Note: This is a piece of creative work and not an actual letter written by James Reeb.

Dear Oles,

The days have gone long; long have they gone. And yet, so fast it seems, since the last time I set my feet upon the grassy plains of the hill, under the peacefulness of a spring breeze, or across the sea of snows that covered the campus tree to tree.

One could not imagine the jubilation and excitement that roused within my heart, as I gazed my eyes upon this alma mater of mine, which has changed so much within such a short space of time. Many have come and gone, saying to everyone that change is good, and change is needed. And indeed, most of the time it is truly so.

Lo, how I see it, the world in which you live in right now has fallen under a greater cross. The conflicts of man have divided us inside and out. From home to neighborhood, from neighborhood to community, from community to society, from society to a nation. Within every turn, behind the mask of a decent smile, and the assuring tone of “I am good,” there is despair, there is hatred, there is suspicion, there is arrogance; so much so, it seems that what defines a person has no more relevance at all.

We are all living our own lives, setting our own standards, meeting our own needs – and we are blinded inside and out to the silent faces and wailing hearts who longed for a human to be the way a human should be.

And yet, out of all the obstacles and roadblocks, somewhere around the corners of the Hill, there are always Oles, one or two, many or few, willing to take up the standards of humanity, truly living up to our “job descriptions,” both as Oles and humans alike. Step by step, a path starts to shape within all of you I see, a path of life that you laid down through your toil, sweat and tears, stone by stone, human by human, one deed after another.

Whether or not you choose to take this path is entirely up to you, although I know that an Ole will choose what needs to be chosen, not for his sake alone, but for the sake of others. For the eyes of your head can be closed, but never let the eyes of your heart go blind.

Alas, my time comes with a struggle, a choice and an outcome of its own. I can simply say that is your turn now to live these things in your life as well, Oles. And yet, whatever everyone says and thinks, I know that from what you obtained here, all of you will create a path of your own, transforming yourself and this world that we live in, one step at a time. As my friend Kempis used to say, “The wider, the more exact your learning, the more severe will be your judgment, if it has not taught you to live holily.”

And at long last, my dear Oles, you could not be, nor do I wish to see you, become an inactive spectators. None of you will ever know the cost that we who lived before you have paid for a life that is worth living. My last hope is that you will make a good use of it. For if you do not, I shall repent in heaven that I ever took the pains that were cast down upon me in order to preserve it.

Um Ya Ya.

18:04 Post Meridiem

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN

Yours sincerely and respectfully,

James Reeb

pattin1@stolaf.edu