(In The Life Of The Church)
a goodbye (by jamie)
At ubc we are well-versed in goodbyes. That sort of comes with the territory when so many of our community are only in Waco to earn a degree or two. That usually provides, at most, a 4-6 year window to know and love someone before we send them off into the world. Those goodbyes are hard enough, but there are rare occasions where a piece of our community is pulled away after we’ve had much more time to get used to having them around.
Jacob Robinson has been at ubc for 10 years. He has gifted us with a number of bizarre videos, a couple of years as an employee in the sound booth, and more years than that as a musician. His creative voice has shaped many of the things we’ve done, but the greatest gift he has given us has been himself.
One of the first things I noticed about Jacob when we became friends in 2011 was that he carried around a small notebook and would jot stuff down in it. It took me a while to figure out that he was often recording jokes or phrases that he heard from people around him. On the one hand, this could be read as creative person doing typical creative person things. But it mostly read as the practice of a person who was taking the time to notice life happening around him, grabbing it before it passed him by.
A few years later, Jacob and I were on a plane to go play at a church camp in Seattle, and he asked me to read a play he had written—I didn’t know that he wrote plays. I read it straight through, as Jake offered commentary and clarification, and when I finished, I turned to him and said, “Jacob. How did you do this? This world, these people, came from your brain.” The story wove together awkward humor, mental illness, and the effects of trauma, into a narrative that was both heavy and bright. I would later discover that this was essentially Jake’s wheelhouse, which probably explains the fact that, if memory serves, he just laughed when I asked him how he wrote it. What explanation is there? Writers write.
I’ve been thinking about these two stories a lot as we draw near to Jacob’s departure. I don’t necessarily know why it’s been these two; I could probably produce a long document of similar stories from my time with Jacob. But I do know that they remind me that Jake is a person who knows, almost naturally, what it is to embrace beauty.
Beauty is an event, or a way of seeing, or a realm of experience—I don’t really know. It’s in the offhanded remarks of friends and the half-heard remarks of strangers. It’s in the heights of joy, and that cutting edge where cosmos begins to re-emerge from chaos. It’s making something of the pieces that are left when the thing you love is shattered. It is resurrection, and it is everywhere.
It is best embraced when seen, best seen when noticed, and best noticed when looking, even when looking is difficult.
And to embrace beauty is in some way to be embraced by it. To be caught up in something beyond the somethings, finding depth where monotony had been, a road to healing where wounds had been, and perhaps, in one way or another, to pass it along.
So as we prepare to send Jake off into the next chapter of his life at Columbia University, into the arms of the winners of Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes, we do so with gratitude for the time we’ve shared and the pieces of himself he is leaving with us.
Stay gold, my friend.
Meet Our Newest UBCer
Name: Julie Kohr Gould
DOB: June 28, 2018
Birth weight: 6'10
height: 19 inches
Enneagram Number: 6
Parishioner of the Week
Towns and August Letendresse for working the candy station at the last UBC/SWCC movie day.
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