A Good Day for Wichita State

Just a bit west of Winfield,
splotches of white accent the stubble of cotton fields
where huge bales of compressed fiber
line the long edge along the gravel road.

I drive past the pecan grove
under a dark blue-bellied shroud of clouds
stretching as far as the eye can see
on an overcast morning.

Somewhere between twelve and twenty miles away,
just beyond the edge of Oklahoma,
a cast of light tinges the edge of the dome
with what looks like dawning
on the wrong side of the sun.

Not quite an hour later,
I drive past the crater of Cessna Stadium
and catch an easy parking space
beside Rhatigan Student Center
on the campus of Wichita State University,
where student protests were planned
for today’s meeting.

On my way in, I grin at Rita Johnson,
and ask how her day is going so far.
The past few weeks, months or years—
take your pick—have been filled with the sort of controversy
that comes when you’ve been charged
with funding something important
in a state where revenues have wilted
like leaves on a downed tree.
She smiles back and says “So far, so good.”

Two floors up, we are chatting with the Chairman
of the Kansas Board of Regents
when WSU President John Bardo
stops by to say hello.

He carries the look of a man weary of the wars
but relieved by the lull in the battle.
Yesterday’s national attention on the inventions
of pride and prejudice
waned in the evening when new appointments
and admissions of personal errors
led to the cancellation of the demonstration.

He looks toward me briefly
and I tell him, “Any day whose ending
seems brighter than its beginning
is a pretty good day.”
He nods agreement,
walks away.

I spend the day in meetings,
some of which even pertain to me,
visit with other college execs
who share the same pains and strains
and treasure the rewarding things
that come when you know
you are helping lives change for the better.

Back out on I-135 heading south,
I decide to stop by and visit
Cowley College’s downtown center
where we are trying to bring an affordable hope
and see how things are going
for our folks who work there.

I sit in a chair,
talking with Robin and Alysa
and Nick Who Has No Nameplate,
seeking their suggestions
and privileged confessions of how things are going
and what might make them go better.

I see a reflection of the sunset
in the glass frame and turn to look behind me.
A blazing glow in the western sky
turns the Wichita skyline into dramatic silhouette,
a flame of red and orange muting the carnage
of the city’s darker side
and bringing a welcome peace
to the passing of light into darkness.

A half-hour later,
I head back toward cotton fields
and pecan groves,
eyes half-closed in a brief benediction,
grateful for God’s good grace and knowing
that any day whose ending
seems brighter than its beginning
is a pretty good day.

H. Arnett

About Doc Arnett

Native of southwestern Kentucky currently living in Ark City, Kansas, with my wife of twenty-nine years, Randa. We have, between us, eight children and twenty-eight grandkids. We enjoy singing, worship, remodeling and travel.
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