Tag Archives: graduation

Limestone In The Rain

Over the weekend, my family gathered for my second son Jared’s college graduation at Indiana University, Bloomington. We arrived in a storm and our first day was drenched. I had visited  before, but only in the sunshine. This time, we all grabbed our coats, opened our umbrellas and walked the paths of Jared’s college experience through mist, puddles and rain.

The word college often evokes images of gargantuan brick buildings surrounding lush quadrangles. A smattering of statues enhances the image, helped along by scattered gargoyles, arches, plaques, columns — and of course more brick. But IU, Bloomington campus, has a character all its own: it was built from limestone.

Limestone is a living entity, a dynamic presence. Of course, it doesn’t have a heartbeat — but actually it does. In past visits, I touched the limestone in the sun, felt its warmth, shielded my eyes from its too-bright sparkle. This weekend, the limestone was cool to the touch, earthy browns and whites, glistening gently. Each block is one color and one hundred colors. Limestone and light have an ongoing relationship which, like all relationships, is layered and complex, comforting in its solidity and full of surprises.

Between graduation events, my family walked through campus, traveling Jared’s four-year journey. His first dorm. The library. His one foray into a philosophy course. The buildings are different shapes and sizes, with varying exterior textures. Some have a smooth surface, some rough. Some have layers of rock on rock, a haphazard impression, stunningly artistic. Some have geometric designs, astonishing in their precision. Each has its own personality.

Jared graduated from Kelley School of Business, a grand, imposing structure. I thought of the countless times my son had entered this building and I stopped, looking up. I expected to feel intimidated, but instead the limestone seemed to reach out. And somehow, in that moment, I understood the curious power and the odd magic of this campus. Kelley offers a palpable invitation to explore and discover, both within the parameters of the business school and beyond — supply chain, a Gregorian chant, advanced combinatorics, accounting, a Maya Angelou poem. Limestone radiates a world of possibility.

Congratulations to the IU Bloomington class of 2017, and especially to Jared. Going forward, may your path offer one color and one hundred colors. May your journey include solidity, surprise, possibility. May you explore and discover.

May you always become, throughout your forever.

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A Carleton Sunset

My oldest son just graduated from Carleton, a small liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota. When we left for our long weekend in the Midwest, I did expect to feel joy and pride, but I didn’t expect those four days to shift my world.

During his years at Carleton, Anschel taught swing dance. As we walked through campus, another student stopped to thank my son for bringing dance into his life. Obviously, Anschel had become a student in the Carleton community; but he also had become a valued teacher. Through the weekend, a key feature of this college revealed itself: students are encouraged to become active catalysts for education. This approach to learning is a Carleton tradition, as deeply engrained as The Alma Mater.

The graduation ceremony was stunning, and the program included two student speakers. One began with a quote from Dr. Seuss. She talked about Carleton’s commitment to experimenting and discovering, through allowing its students to fall and instilling the confidence needed to get back up.

The second speaker honored a classmate who died in a car accident during their freshman year. He described his classmate’s openness about living with Asperger’s Syndrome, and how his lost friend’s honesty had changed the lives of others.

Both speakers shared their thoughts with eloquence and humor, with warmth and intelligence, with an absolute lack of pretentiousness. At this small, shining college, the students learned to learn, learned to teach, learned to remain open to new ideas. As I listened to the words of these young minds, I kept thinking that Carleton’s president and professors must have been powerful role models to create such an enriched and enriching environment.

On our final evening, Anschel showed our family The Arboretum. A prairie sunset is like none other. From steely gray with darker gray designs like enormous birds’ wings, to cottony patches of orange, to a bronze glow so bright I shielded my eyes, to gentle pink streaked with not-quite-purple — the sky held the entire palette. I stopped and looked up, taking in the canopy of color that motivated pioneers to survive storms, illness, fires – to build towns, schools, houses of worship.

Anschel will always view Carleton as one of his homes. Going forward, he will carry his joy in bringing dance to others, the wisdom of a classmate lost before his time, the words of Dr. Seuss, and prairie sunsets.

Thanks to the generosity of spirit within this extraordinary community, I’ll carry those things with me as well.

Congratulations to my oldest son, and to the Carleton class of 2014.

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