Saturday, May 23, 2015

Sewanee: A Few Years Later

Today's guest blogger is one of my best friends, the wonderfully talented and beautiful Catherine Clifton, and she's writing about one of my favourite places in the world!

Picture taken by Caroline Williams, C'14

“Where’d you go to undergrad?”

“Sewanee: The University of the South.”

“Oh. Cool.”

You have no idea, person who has never seen my mountain views and my Gothic architecture and my black-gowned scholars and my madras sportcoats. “Cool” will suffice if you’ve never heard of Sewanee, but let me educate you, because the love I have for my alma mater just can’t be contained.

Picture a place where it’s entirely possible to meet a new person, but feel like you’ve known them for a good long while. After all, they had that English class with Reishman and his tattered gown that only covers one of his shoulders; they missed the sound of bells over the summer when they went home; they know that Lake Trez is probably radioactive; they’re familiar with Highlanders, Wellingtons, heathens, and lurches; they tap the roof of their car without knowing they’ve moved their hand from the wheel; and they know a girl with a red flower behind her ear will drink them dry of Cuervo.

There are places in the world that people of faith refer to as “thin places”—places where the barrier between God and man is thinner, more transparent. Go to the Cross on a snowy morning. Walk through Abbo’s Alley after a storm, and let the smell of green fill you up until you feel chlorophyll in your veins. Snap your fingers in All Saints’ and wait for the echo from the stone and glass.

Here is the place where abandon is found not only in the fraternity houses but in the classroom and the grandstand. Abandon: to give (oneself) over unrestrainedly. To revel in the moment of discovery, of accomplishment, of fragility, of competition, of young love, of debauchery, of growing pains and growing joys.

Here is the place that teaches all aspects of life. It is not perfect; far from perfect, it is deeply flawed, and it has danger and hurt and conflict and fear. But it brings together people who have felt those feelings and people who have lived in bubbles, and it flings them toward an embrace made of diverse arms and hands. Sewanee holds itself together, and it never lets go. You leave the Holy Mountain. You take your angel with you, and your friends’ phone numbers, and your pictures and T-shirts and bachelor’s degree—but the Mountain keeps you close. Even in the deepest fog, the cornerstone waits and does not move.

Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum.

Behold how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.

Picture taken by Caroline Williams C'14

1 comment:

Audrey Lin said...

Sounds like a place I need to visit! Usually the word "abandon" is associated with negative connotations, but I love looking at it this way instead! -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey's

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