I was shocked and saddened to read of the death of one of Wheaton’s English professors last week. He was only 42, and I know he was beloved by the students. I was not familiar with him, but did have the opportunity to read some of his poetry. Here is a beautiful interview with Dr. Foster. I am sad I never knew him. This poem (Tongue is the Pen) was my introduction to his faithful, beautiful life:
I am making all things new! Or am trying to,
being so surprised to be one of those guys
who may be dying early. This is yet one more
earthen declaration, uttered through a better
prophet’s more durable mouth, with heart
astir. It’s not oath-taking that I’m concerned
with here, for what that’s worth— instead just a cry
from the very blood, a good, sound imprecation
to give the sickness and the shivering meaning.
Former things have not been forgotten,
but they have forgotten me. The dear, the sweet,
the blessed past, writes Bassani. Tongue is the pen.
Donning some blanket of decorousness
is not the prophet’s profession, not ever.
Not that I’ve tasted the prophet’s honey or fire:
I’m just a shocked, confounded fellow
who’s standing here, pumping the bellows
of his mellifluous sorrow. Yet sorrow’s the thing
for all prophets. Make a way in the wilderness,
streaming your home-studio-made recordings
from a personal wasteland. These are my thoughts.
I can’t manage the serious beard. My sackcloth
is the flannel shirt I’m wearing. But the short-circuited
months have whitened my hair, and it’s not
for nothing that Jeffrey calls me, with affectionate
mockery, the silver fox. It’s a prerequisite, finally—
being a marginal prophet, but a severe attention
to envisioned tomorrows must be present, too,
must be perceived as possible, audible, or followable.
There’s a hypothetically bright future for everything,
each wounded creature that is bitten, or bites.
And speaking of things overheard, you heard right:
if I have to go out, I am going to go out singing.
Later in the week, I read of the death of a second beloved Wheaton professor, Dr. Roger Lundin. Unlike Dr. Foster, Dr. Lundin had been teaching at Wheaton for 37 years, which encompassed the time Greg and I (and Valerie!) were at Wheaton. I did not get to have him as a prof, but Greg took one class from him. While we had numerous professors who were either personally or professionally (or both) head and shoulders above the norm, Dr. Lundin was one that Greg stayed in touch with over the years.
Two years ago, when we went to Wheaton to visit Valerie, we decided to stop by Lundin’s office, as it had been a long time since we had seen him. Greg penciled a note and taped it to his door and said we’d be back later. When we came back, Roger commented that when he saw the note, he knew it was from Greg Taylor BECAUSE HE RECOGNIZED THE HANDWRITING. Of a student he had in a class over 30 years ago, from whom he had received a few letters over the years.
One of our treasured books is Dr. Lundin’s “Believing Again.” Published in 2012, he inscribed it to Greg: “To Greg, my friend of ever so longstanding, with gratitude for your friendship and great admiration for your many gifts. Roger Lundin.”
How can he be gone? What an impact he made on my dear husband, and myself as well. Life is just too short, but what a legacy to leave behind, by both Dr. Foster and Dr. Lundin. I am so grateful for my education at Wheaton, and for the many men and women who shaped my thinking and challenged me and enriched my life. Goodbye, Dr. Lundin, until we meet again.