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ours and not only ours

August 15, 2010

Like so many other records of the Thomas More that was (the beautiful newsletters, the now unavailable audio recordings of Senior Thesis presentations), the film, “The Beautiful Changes,” is no longer actively published by the school’s administration.

The film is in itself beautifully conceived and composed; but it is still more beautiful for the vision and activity of the institution that it portrays. That institution deserves to be remembered and looked to by all people of good will as an exemplar of what liberal education can be. By right, that institution ought to be remembered by those both at Thomas More and the Erasmus Institute who are committed to the present work of education and to envisioning its future.

Liberal education represents a genuine service and a genuine need because only through actively recalling the memories of our spiritual and cultural history can we hope to be true stewards of our destiny, free from the unexamined reign of contemporary sentiment and opinion (or opinionlessness, as the case may be). This more recent history of ours, that of a particular educational institution in crisis, though it is certainly more contemporary, is not on that account less weighty, nor its memories less deeply compelling. Indeed, by their very nearness to our own contingency, the memories of this history have a fragility that calls in particular way for our care. We are to hold such memories in a way that combines protection with offering, in a way that says they are not only ours.

The Beautiful Changes
Richard Wilbur

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water, it glides
So from the walker, it turns
Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you
Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed
By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it,
As a mantis, arranged
On a green leaf, grows
Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves
Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

The film was recently posted on YouTube:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 15, 2010 10:35 pm

    Our little admissions piece was released towards the end of my freshman year and my initial reaction was almost paradoxical and perhaps even a bit schizophrenic. I had said, “Amazing, it really captures the beautiful spirit of why I remain in what must seem like a strange place to outsiders. But this is what I wanted when I decided to go back to college!” My other one was, “Oh come one! Nothing is that perfect!” People often got annoyed and angry at me when I made jokes about this video. It still stands that the waterfall is not on campus, though I do understand that there was at one time a work-study project for such an undertaking :).

    It was a great film, and did the best that a short piece could do in capturing the spirit of our education without over-romanticizing it. They further did a good job of editing out all the smoking, which I was mildly worried about. Mind you, the smokers porch carries my happiest memories of my four years there; all the same, I was worried that the uninitiated would not understand. Even when I wasn’t smoking I would sometimes pour some coffee and just sit and talk, listen a little, and take in all the fun.

    Thanks for the link to youtube, sir!

  2. Finny permalink
    August 18, 2010 8:31 am

    Wow, now this made me sad/nostalgic. So much has happened since then…

    I’m glad this thing exists to remind me what I believe.


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