Posted on Sunday, May 17, 2009
Afternoon showers did not keep the Classes of 2009, family members, faculty and staff from attending the annual Baccalaureate Service on Saturday.
And those who traversed soggy streets and sidewalks and shook raindrops off umbrellas and outerwear before entering Trinity Church on South Main Street Church appeared happy they'd made the choice to be there.
Their decision was affirmed in welcoming remarks by The Rev. Lesley M. Adams, Colleges Chaplain, who noted the value of making time for ritual despite the myriad pressing things to do, and precious little time to do them.
"Rituals," she said "help us to navigate and deal with the anxiety of change." Adams then invited attendees to "slow down, breathe deeply and be fully present" in the changes Commencement brings not just to graduates, but to all of us.
In her address, Adams told seniors they've learned that some well-meaning attempts made by previous generations have sadly gone awry. "The antiseptic environments have increased autoimmune diseases," she said. "Our food production and waste disposal systems are poisoning the planet. Removing childbirth, aging and death from our homes has increasingly alienated us from the natural cycles of life."
"It's tempting," she explained, " to tell you that you need to grow up fast in order to outwit the enemies we have yet to master. But instead, I'm going to suggest something I learned in Sunday School, from Matthew 18:3: 'Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.' I want you to hang on to some of that little kid in you. I want you to remember when 'Oooh gross!' meant 'Let's check it out.' I want you to learn to love worms again."
Espousing wonderful childlike characteristics of inquisitiveness and inventiveness - including kids' love of worms - and worms many virtues in improving soil and transforming decaying and rotting matter into material to support new life, Adams said her own experiences with worm farming, while not all fun and games, are worth the often "stinky and messy" effort.
"As we learn to love the worms, we will learn from them that transforming garbage into the material for new life is our purpose too.''
Adams address was one of several to provide reflection in the service. Others included thoughtful remarks by Colleges President Mark D. Gearan; readings by seniors Rafeek Mohamed, Anna Wager, Diana Siegel, Joshua Strenger and Prabighya Basnet; the responsive Call to Adventure led by William Smith Dean Cerri A. Banks and Hobart Dean Eugen Baer; the Sending Forth, by Provost Teresa Amott; and the giving of the Benediction and dismissal by Hillel Director Lorinda Weinstock.
And all of it nicely punctuated by beautifully performed instrumental vocal musical selections by Colleges' Organist MaryAnn Hamilton, the MidLakes Brass and members of The Colleges Chorale, directed by Robert L. Cowles.
Click here to see photos from the event.