This is the Way the Semester Ends

emptydeskI dreamed that I died last night. I dreamt that I was officiating a wedding and died in mid-sentence. I’ve heard it said that if you don’t wake up during such a dream you really will die. I am skeptical but I didn’t have an opportunity to test the theory. My wife Jane woke me before I felt the full effect.

I also dreamt that my house flooded. I opened the front door to see rivers of water washing down the street. I tried to shut the door against the flood but the water came pouring in and swept me away. No wonder I felt anxious when I finally got out of bed.

But then I always feel anxious on the last day of the semester. I hope that my classes will end on a crescendo. I imagine the students beaming with gratitude as they applaud at the end of my lecture. I envision them being reluctant to leave my presence and finally doing so with tears.

But the reality always falls somewhat short of this fantasy. My final lectures do not build to a crescendo. They stumble to a halt. There are a few handshakes and expressions of gratitude. For the most part, however, my students rush for the door. All that is left are a few straggling papers.

I watch them go and think of a line from T. S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

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Published by

John Koessler

John Koessler serves as professor and chair of the pastoral studies department at Moody Bible Institute. His most recent book is The Radical Pursuit of Rest published by InterVarsity Press.

6 thoughts on “This is the Way the Semester Ends”

  1. Sorry we did not applaud you Dr. Koessler. In our hearts we were shouting for joy. But that may have just been because the semester is over….

  2. Only the applause in heaven truly matters–for sermons, for ministry, for classrooms, for life– and, wonder of wonders, we’re already seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus.

  3. some of us who slipped out of your classroom painfully silent still do think of your lectures several years later… We were just too awkwardly freshman at the time to screw up the courage to tell you how much your classes and our personal interaction had left a deep imprint for which I’m still thankful. 🙂
    It’s horribly belated but, thank you Dr. Koessler!

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