(My classmates with our professor on the left.)

On September 4th of this year, I became a Freshman at the University of Minnesota. Having never set foot in a college classroom in any of my 72 years, the experience has significantly exceeded my expectations. This first semester has featured 45 eighteen-year old’s and "moi" learning about the origins and evolution of religion. It is impossible to adequately describe the joy I feel each time I head to the U of M campus.

This story, however, is about my first and last day of class. I remember that first day being in the room thirty minutes early, which I quickly came to realize was abnormal for the typical college student. The second person to arrive was a young woman. A little concerned about the correct protocol, I decided to take a risk and introduce myself. She told me her name was Lauren. I asked if she was a Freshman and she said “Yes,” to which I replied, “So am I!”

Seeing the stunned look on Laurens’ face I explained that, even though it was much later in my life, I was at last fulfilling one of my dreams to go to college. Since then, Lauren and I have spent the semester sitting a few seats away from each other in the same row. We would always greet each other and ask questions such as “How was your weekend? How are your other classes going?” The interactions have been simple yet warm and friendly. Having four daughters of my own, I am well aware of boundaries.

So, last Tuesday was finals and we were all buried, heads down, endeavoring to do well and finish strong. When I eventually looked up Lauren was gone, having completed the exam ahead of me. I handed in my paper feeling a huge sense of disappointment that I had not been able to say goodbye and wish Lauren well for the rest of her college days and her life.

As I returned to my seat to get my things, I noticed a post-it note on the desk. It read: “Hey David, it was so much fun being in this class with you. Thanks for being my first college friend. Good luck in future classes. Lauren.”

Could one wish for a more precious gift this Holiday Season?

MARK OF AN EAGLE--How Your Life Changes the World--available on Amazon