Spring is upon us and Easter draws nigh! In these days, the grace of resurrected life bursts forth in the natural profusion of the season and in the supernatural work of God in the holy days culminating in Easter.
The joyous beauty of Spring—with its echoes of Eden glory, susceptibility to ruin, and redemption through Christ—is celebrated in a sonnet Gerard Manley Hopkins called, simply, “Spring.” It begins:
Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush; . . .
Hopkins notices thrush eggs and birdsong, the echoing timber, pear tree blossoms, and blue sky “all in a rush with richness” under which the lambs “have fair their fling.” Seamus Heaney observed that Hopkins’ poetry is “rammed with life,” and this particular poem fits the bill.
But it is not merely life of which we hear in Hopkins’ opening lines. Allusive reminders of the incarnate Christ follow in quick succession. “Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens.” In them, airborne birds, things of the heavens, have been brought humbly down to earth. In “echoing timber” through which the bird “does so rinse and wring / The ear,” we might think of another’s song, once brought low enough to hear, and thus to purge and scourge, before dying on timbers that reverberate in holy remembrance to this day. The stanza concludes with sight of lively lambs, stirring in us thought of the Agnus Dei who also once had fair his fling.
Hopkins then asks and answers a question that strikes to the core of everything:
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.
We always need reminders of our origins and our proper ends. Hopkins thus points us to vestiges of long-ago days in Eden, before our fathers and mothers cloyed, clouded, and soured the juice of “earth’s sweet being” and with it, the innocence of all humankind. He also reminds us of that humble “maid’s child,” Jesus of Nazareth, who not only creates, but re-creates Spring and our innocence, “thy choice and worthy the winning.”
When we do our work well, students learn of the beauty of Spring and the whole world with it. We look with them for signs of divine joy, and lament the ways what was meant to be sweet becomes sour. We exult in each Spring’s renewal of winter’s barren fields—and even more in our restoration through what Christ wrought on Easter Day. With this behind our work as teachers and scholars, we can expect great things of our students, whether in family or neighborhood life, or careers in business, education, engineering, film, law, medicine, ministry, or politics.
In that sense of shared mission, here are some things of which to take note:
• Today is April Fool’s Day, but what associate dean Julia Hejduk
writes of the coincidence of this day and Maundy Thursday is no joke. In a blog post that ranges from Trojan lore to Roman Republic statuary to twentieth-century cartoons, Julie reflects on the preposterous incongruities brought together in the remarkable Passover meal we celebrate as the Last Supper. Take a look here
for her reflection. Our school of education colleague, Perry Glanzer
, edits the Christ Animating Learning
blog, an initiative of Christian Scholar’s Review
• Following a university-wide selection process, two of our colleagues have been recognized as Outstanding Faculty. Mark Long
, associate professor in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, is recipient of the Outstanding Tenured Faculty Teaching Award. One colleague says he “captures the imagination of students and inspires them,” and students name him as “one of the best professors” they encounter at Baylor. Robert Miner
, professor of philosophy in the Great Texts Program, is recipient of the Outstanding Tenured Faculty Scholarship Award. When writing of towering figures and profound topics, a former student praises Dr. Miner as one “who reads and writes for the Glory of God.” Congratulations, Mark and Rob.
• Congratulations are also due to Davide Zori
, associate professor of history and archaeology in BIC, Colleen Zori
, senior lecturer in BIC, and Alden Smith
, professor of classics in the College of Arts & Sciences. In a new grant program of Discovery Channel/Explorer’s Club, they received funding for their project, “Rediscovering Buried Tombs and Lost Towns in Ancient Etruria: San Giuliano Archaeological Research Project.” At stake are the excavation of a 2,500-year-old, unlooted Etruscan chamber tomb and a medieval castle’s chapel. With the prospect of international media attention to a project with remarkable story-telling potential, exciting days are ahead.
• As part of Alumni Week 2021
(April 12-17), look for a University-curated series of academic unit profiles, including one for the Honors College on Tuesday, April 13. After a brief Give Light
video, I’ll offer a short overview and introduce our colleague, David Corey
, who will lead a timely round table discussion with three honors students on “Civil Discourse and Free Speech.” Showcasing engaged scholarship and encouraging lifelong learning among alumni, David will represent us well. Our chief development officer, David Cortes
, will button things up with closing remarks.
• Fellowships, with associated $1,000 stipends, are available to faculty who want to incorporate into their courses some of the special collection materials held in the Keston Center for Religion, Politics, and Society. Applications are due by April 9 and additional information is available here
All the best,
Douglas V. Henry | Dean
Honors College | Baylor University
baylor.edu/honorscollege | 254.710.7689