I answered the phone at work today with my usual "This is Donna Bowman." "Is this the eminent professor and theologian Donna Bowman?" I heard, and midway through the sentence I started laughing out loud. That's the way my mentor and adviser at the University of Georgia, Dr. Will Power, always addresses me on the phone, and it couldn't be more charming.
Will wanted to ask about some new books in the field, hash over whether God should be viewed as a series of temporal occasions or as a single non-temporal instance (an evergreen discussion), and chat about mutual acquaintances. I was thrilled to hear him so full of life and energy, just as if twenty years hadn't passed since he taught my classes, or a couple of years since our last conversation. He's still teaching even though he could have retired with forty years' service four years ago, and if it keeps him that young, I say more power to him.
We have so many great tools for keeping in touch with old friends and colleagues now. And "in touch" is just the right metaphor; Facebook and other social networks let me observe them at an arm's length, making a closer move if I like but otherwise just watching the flow of what they choose to share.
But with members of an older generation, or those who for personal reasons have opted out of those sites, we have the joy that comes from regaining contact after extended silences. I couldn't be happier to find that my wonderful professor, who inspired me so much, is still thinking of me and still inspiring others. A moment of pure grace and joy.