SpringtimeMarch 19, 2009
Dear Members of Brooks College:
The coming weekend brings us the first official day of spring. For natural reasons, the season of spring holds a place of deep affection in the human soul. It brings to us gentler breezes along with its knee-shaking thunderstorms, of course, but beyond the change from wintry weather it is the unbidden profusion of renewed life that we cherish most as a part of spring.
Doesn't the season of spring call forth our consent to be changed and renewed in our own lives? Unlike all of the rest of nature, though, the renewal of human persons does not follow merely from the changing of the calendar. Seeing all else around us made green, vivid, and warm may increase our longing to be remade, but whether or not we are given the gift of new life depends on our openness to the means of grace that God offers to us.
If we have eyes to see and ears to hear, then perhaps we can discern the ways in which the Lord beckons each of us into the new life for which we too are made. As we do so, I believe that we will find that our thriving depends crucially upon that of others.
Simone Weil speaks powerfully of our interdependence using a vegetative metaphor. She writes, "To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul. . . . A human being has roots by virtue of his real, active and natural participation in the life of a community which preserves in living shape certain particular treasures of the past and certain particular expectations for the future."
Membership in Brooks College offers a tremendous opportunity to sink deep roots that can nourish us. Have you grown roots within our grace-filled community through an active and natural participation in it? In what ways are you embodying in your life the treasures of our past so that they may be preserved and given to others? Do you hold particular expectations for the future that envision the growth of your own life as an integral part of our college? Should you hesitate on any of these points, let me invite you to look and listen for the sights and sounds of spring around us, be inspired to renewed life in your own person, and stretch vital roots deeply and widely into the college.
An outstanding place to begin for many of our number is in the renewal of a commitment to our weekly Sunday dinner. When we break commitments to one another, we do real though reparable harm to our community. Since in entering Brooks College we all pledged to honor each other through the weekly breaking of bread together, since it represents a great occasion for being rooted in a good life together, and since springtime calls us to a new beginning, I hope to see everyone back together in the Great Hall on Sunday for the start of the wondrous season of spring.
I'm adding one of my favorite springtime poems at the bottom for your pleasure and reflection.
All the best,
Douglas V. Henry
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Honors College
Master, Brooks Residential College
by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 – 1889)
Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.
What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning.