This story was co-written by Kirk Bado and Gracie Helms
President Bob Fisher hosted the inaugural convocation in the new chapel at the Wedgewood Academic Center Friday morning, focusing on the gift of life that has been given to all students.
A diverse crowd of athletes coming right from practice, students trudging backpacks between classes and various faculty and administrators flooded the new facility. By the time the first hymn began, it was standing room only with a large group standing in the atrium outside the chapel.
This was the first of weekly chapel-style convocation seminars in the 250-seat facility and the first in a series of convocations given by Fisher.
After the first hymn, Dr. Guy Chmieleski, head of University Ministries, gave the opening prayer calling for God to bless the new building.
“Flood this place with Holy Spirit,” Chmieleski said.
After the opening prayer, Fisher was introduced and began speaking about the book he and his wife Judy wrote, “Life is a Gift.”
The talks of writing the book were spurred after his daughter’s boyfriend was killed in the 9/11 attacks in New York City.
“This was the first time my heart was broken,” said Fisher.
After the tragedy, Fisher and his wife began to reevaluate what really mattered in their life.
For the book they interviewed terminally ill patients in hospice care ranging from ages 5 to 98. He asked about their biggest regrets, their proudest moments, their happiest moments and what they thought life was about.
Fisher shared some inspiring stories from the 104 people he and his wife met along their journey. Most notably was the account of a single mother dying of breast cancer, who was a recovering alcoholic with a troubled childhood.
Fisher told the crowd how inspired he was by the single mother’s attitude toward life and death. She told him, if she has never been raped, she would never have become an alcoholic and if she had never become an alcoholic, she would never have joined Alcoholics Anonymous and if she never joined AA she would have never found Jesus. And without Jesus, she would be afraid to die.
Fisher ended the chapel with a excerpt from “Life is a Gift,” comparing the gift of life and a final exam.
“A few words of instructions, maybe even warning, are in order before you begin this exam. First, a word of warning: this is not an easy exam. It is not a “true or false” or multiple-choice exam. This is an essay exam that requires critical-thinking skills. It also covers every aspect of your life— everything is on the test….A significant paradox in the instructions is that there is no announced time limit for taking the exam–you can take all the time you have. But time will expire, we just can’t tell you when. ”