"My Heart I Offer to You, Lord, Promptly and Sincerely"
Reflections from an alumni board member
By Gary G. Meyer '61

Last year all three times I came for alumni board meetings, I took a little drive past the old Franklin campus. That was the Calvin I knew. Those were the buildings I knew inside and out. And that is how and where I remember my friends, the Commons, Thespians, chapel and classes. But most of all my professors. Last year I also went each time to see my Aunt Henrietta TenHarmsel [English professor, emerita]. When I visited her, I also would go right across the hall at Raybrook Manor and visit a little with [English professor, emeritus] Dick Tiemersma. Sometimes he talked; sometimes he didn't. Sometimes he woke up; sometimes he didn't. Occasionally, I would run into Steve VanDerWeele, who was there visiting his wife. And I still love going to the "Emeritorium" in Hiemenga Hall to see Conrad Bult, Bill Spoelhof, George Harper and others. They are an integral part of the Calvin I remember.

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Then a few months ago, both Dick Tiemersma and Ervina Boevé died within a few days of each other. They were two professors who had a profound effect on me. Thousands of other Calvin grads, I am sure, would say the same. Actually Tiemersma practically scared me right out of Calvin. At the end of the first paper I wrote for him during my freshman year, he wrote: "I am giving you a D- on this paper, Gary, only because I am so disgusted with what passes for college caliber these days and fighting it almost single-handed, but don't kid yourself-this is nothing but an F paper. Rewrite!" Little did he know that I had gone to a small agricultural high school in South Dakota where I cannot remember writing papers except in agricultural classes. In one of our first classes Tiemersma wanted to know who had read many of the books he considered vital to any Calvin student. Lots of hands went up at every title he mentioned, but never mine. I read lots of novels he did not ask about in high school, but I just went down the shelves starting with A in the high school library and the town library. Quaking I went to him after class the day I got my paper back and said that I would need help with rewriting. I hadn't dared to show my aunt my paper. He helped me for a long time that day, several times later, and never held my farm boy past against me. I got a B- on the rewrite. In consequent courses I took from him, I loved every minute and learned a ton.

Here is my question about the motto: Whose hand is holding the heart?

I was in Thespians for four years, and who could be in Thespians in those days and not love the Boevés? Ervina started the drama department. When I was a senior, we did Hamlet in the old St. Cecilia's Auditorium. It was the first time in Calvin's history that a person was allowed to die on stage. So Ervina decided to go big time and kill almost everybody. Thespians was like my family at Calvin and the Boevé's home was like our home away from home. As a teacher I have directed somewhere around 70 plays, and I always say I learned everything from Ervina, especially how to make everyone involved with the play to feel important, and how to encourage actors and actresses to develop their characters from inside themselves, not to do it for them.

Add to those Howard Rienstra, John Timmerman, Ann Noteboom, Stanley Wiersma, Andrew Bandstra and Phil Lucasse (who knew me mainly because of my excessive chapel skips), and you will have a notion of what Calvin meant to me. I marvel every time I come to the Knollcrest campus, yet when I talk with students while I am here, or back home with students I taught who have attended Calvin, I know that the heart of Calvin remains the same. Calvin took a rough-cut farm boy from South Dakota and made a scholar (at least, sort of) out of me. But more than that, they gave me a vision of what it means to live a Christian life. Cor meum tibi. "My heart I offer to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely." I saw that every time I went to chapel, and I still see it in my head and heart today. That is why I consider it such a privilege to work on this committee. I see wonderful education still happening, and I can be a part of it. As our current alumni board president notes, Calvin does have a wonderful motto.

By the way, I do not think Dick Tiemersma could get by writing things like that on papers anymore, nor would he, but I am thankful to him for what he did for me. As I meet with current professors applying for alumni scholarships, or at committee meetings, or around the campus, I know that Calvin still educates not only the head, but also the heart. Calvin still nurtures, as it teaches, students to carry the Calvin motto all over the world.

But here is my question about the motto: Whose hand is holding the heart? I always thought that it was my hand offering my heart. Now I am beginning to see that it may be better seen as me placing my heart in God's hand.

Gary Meyer '61 Gary Meyer is a member of the Calvin Alumni Board representing Chicagoland alumni.