The academic job market was closing like a sink hole, so you told yourself that Abilene, Texas, had claims beyond personal ambition—parents who needed tending, children who required space to ride neighborhoods safe for bikes and school playgrounds; fortunate Fortune 500 salaries could not compensate for standardized closets of dark blue attire, name plates, ledger-sheet acquaintances. How serendipitous the forty acres—community of red-brick buildings no big bad wolf, no torrent of Bible bullies could topple.
Of course you did not expect to stay. Nor did Rupert N. Richardson, Julius Olsen, and J. D. Sandefer; T. W. (Jack) Dean, Lawrence Clayton, and John Peslak. Names passed down in the works and days of students, their children, their children’s children. Like you, those who came before grew weary of toiling all day, all night, letting down net after net, catching nothing, washing away the brine each morning, then setting out into the deep. “Once more unto the breach.” Faith. Nets filled to breaking. What Master told them, “Do not be afraid”? Of failing. Of success. A power beyond comprehension. A doggedness more enduring than accolades, compensation.
And you divided your catch among those gathered on the shore and set out again to heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons. So what that only one returned to say thank you! One returned to say thank you.