St. Fred…Patron Saint of New Roommates (Repost)
If Facebook tells me anything this time of year, it says that it’s time to unload old furniture and roommates from the netherworld. Facebook sports blurbs like, “Does anybody need a fridge/microwave for next fall? Ours is slightly used. The tomatoes we exploded inside it are from last fall and should be dry by now.” Or “We need a third roommate to share rent as we live under the front porch of the Xi House. Cozy if you don’t mind a little noise.” Wouldn’t it be great to have some sure-fire way to know if that person you think would the perfect fit for next year doesn’t have some hideous secret life or might be wanted for insect genocide in Uzbekistan? Maybe we need a quick shout out to St. Fred…the patron saint of new roommates? He voices the eternal optimism that the next one won’t be a loser. He radiates the limitless confidence that we can move in with and get along with anybody – even when the new suite mates include Genghis Kahn, Vlad the Impaler and Josef Stalin. Okay, his being dead makes hearing back from St. Fred a little tricky. How about some suggested screening questions instead?
Start with Ramen noodles. How long does it take to microwave a pack? If they say, “Two or three minutes”, good answer. “I like them plain without water. When they bloat in the stomach, it feels more filling.” Pray harder. “Like fine wine, Ramen noodles need to age. Moisten and microwave ever so lightly and leave them to ferment and breathe in a suitable place – like a bathroom sink.” Move along – quickly.
What to do with a dirty sock in the middle of the floor? If they say, “Put it in the dirty clothes bag and wash it”, we could have a winner. “Sock? What sock?” Be cautious. “I was going to leave it there until it could stand up on its own. Then I would teach it to dance, put on shows and offset next year’s tuition hike with the money”. Maybe in a thousand years.
Sharing the room with their friends? If they say, “I would never just barge in with someone without checking with you,” this could be a special person. “How come you’re always doing weird stuff when I come in – like studying?” Smell the coffee but do it quickly because it’s almost boiled dry. “My friends don’t drool much and mostly clean up after themselves when they do.” Say “no thanks” and tell them you won’t need a roommate because you will be transferring to the University of Neptune.
Food remnants on the floor? When they say, “I hate crumbs and stuff. I even wipe off my desktop after a granola bar”, get them to sign in blood now. (Actually, if anyone does say this, they are part of an extraterrestrial conspiracy bent on dominating the earth merely saying what they’re programmed to say. Real humans who could become roommates never say this.) “Depends on how long it’s been on the floor.” Start moving toward the door. “If the pizza crusts, cookie crumbs and dried up Spaghettios lay there long enough and mingle, maybe lightning will strike the room and ZAMBO, a new life form will emerge.” Check, please.
We could ask other questions but if someone passes all four of these, we could have a keeper. But especially if we follow Jesus Christ, we might be looking for more. Rooming with Christians has some major plusses but let me say that rooming with all Christians is no excuse to withdraw, hide from or avoid the students on our campus who don’t know Jesus Christ. Christians should be salt, light, comfort and encouragement for each other but never insulation. Having said that, roommates usually spend major time with and go through important experiences together. To harness these for the Kingdom of God by sharing them with someone on our wavelength, growing into the deeper things of God together is huge and will bear a lifetime of fruit. I remember both Mike (now headmaster of a Christian school and retreat center) and Bob (professor at a state university where he taught inside the state’s maximum security prison) from college years. In my senior year, eight of us moved in together off campus (but not under a porch – student off campus housing can be Neanderthal). None of us would trade that for anything. No Christian should miss some expression of it.
The Christian roommate thing is great, the Christian posse better still. But let’s notch it up a bit from there. One of the emerging things on campus that God has His finger in is the rise of Christian study houses. For a closer look at what one of these looks like, go here. Cornell might be a tough commute for a lot of us but these are springing up all over. Not only can a student livethere with other Christians but they can explore their calling, integrate their studies and their faith, have impressive libraries at their disposal only steps from their bedroom and interact at deep levels not usually possible even with strong involvement in a campus group. Many now are filling spots for next fall. If we’re in the neighborhood, looking for a new neighbor and are having difficulty connecting with St. Fred, check one of these out. Otherwise we might end up with this. Or this. Or this. If any of these look like anything promising, we should check ourselves into the university health center until it passes. And pray harder about that Christian roommate thing.
If you think that this might encourage a student or anyone who loves them, please subscribe, share, Twitter and all that other social media stuff. If you’ve already done that then you need to be part of something on Facebook called Geezer 1. It’s a mix of students, student ministry leaders, professors, musicians, artists, composers, cultural thinkers and entrepreneurs as well as a few campus rats who think that Jesus Christ thinks that the university is a special place. Check it out and request to join. If the Facebook dog eats you homework (your request – and this has happened.), we’ll ask you to resubmit. Please return your seats to the upright position and give your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next time at geezeronthequad.com.