This Commencement Spree is my riff on Brother Lawrence Whitney’s (Brother Larry) Howard Thurman remix:
I make of my life an offering to you, the young folk.
There is a surrender of the life that redeems, purifies, and makes whole.
Every surrender to a particular person, event, circumstance, or activity is but a token surrender, the temporary settling of the passing and transitory.
The surrender must be to something big enough to absolve one from the little way, the meager demand.
It is the claim of religion that this is only found in God. The pathways may vary but the goal is one.
I make of my life an offering to the Nation.
There is in every person something that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in herself.
There is in you something that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself.
The burden of what I have to say to you is, “What is your name – who are you – and can you find a way to hear the sound of the genuine in yourself?”
I wonder if you can get still enough – not quiet enough – still enough to hear rumbling up from your unique and essential idiom the sound of the genuine in you.”
I don’t know if I can. But this is your assignment.
I make of my life an offering to the World.
On the one hand is the absolute necessity for the declaration that states unequivocally the uniqueness of the private life, the awful sense of being an isolate, independent and alone, the great urgency to savor one’s personal flavor – to stand over against all the rest of life in contained affirmation. While on the other hand is the necessity to feel oneself as a primary pary of all of life, sharing at every level of awareness a dependence upon the same elements in nature, caught up in the ceaseless rhythm of living and dying, with no final immunity against a common fate that finds and holds all living things.
People, all people belong to each other, and anyone who shuts himself or herself away is diminished, and anyone who shuts another away is destroyed.
And all the people said,
(Inspiration and Words by Howard Thurman. Remix by Brother Larry. Music on Spotify. Italicized words are meant to be read aloud and with others.)
Two days of Senior Week done, with five full days to go.
I know you’re asking, “How would Dean Elmore do up Senior Week?” Well, here you go. Each day this week, Dean Elmore will sketch (and yes, emphasis on sketch) out how he thinks you should be spending your Senior Week – from what to do during the day, what to jam to as you prep and what you should be donning at all of the events.
Your Monday agenda, from the Dean himself.
Do you need Harbor Cruise tickets? Some are still available for sale.
Tonight’s other event is the Harpoon Brewery takeover. That is sold out. If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, use the hashtag #BU13Harpoon on Twitter and Instagram and tell us what your favorite pretzel dipping sauce turns out to be.
In the midst of your learning, I hope your reflection continues.
I look for poetry in the ordinary and grace from the terrible. The chorus at the end of The Cure at Troy in Seamus Heaney’s translation of Sophocles’ The Philoctetes keeps me hopeful:
Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.
The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.
History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.
So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.
Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky
That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.
And, of course, music brings the tone for my active reflection.
* a shoutout to James Baldwin