August 18 – Start-up Time

Monday August 18

A lot of athletes moved into Shiple these past few days, Beth Ann Finster tells me, and the c. 25 freshmen who will head out to a camp near Jackson for a retreat designed to help them enter the world of the university with grace and playful courage.  You can almost here the university buildings whispering to each other “Here they come!  Another year.”

Teilhard de Chardin, sj  (1881-1955) wrote about beginnings; he was a Jesuit and a world class paleontologist who found promises of the future by looking deep into the past.   One of my favorite quotes came to mind just now while contemplating these beginnings emerging all around the university.   Here is a pretty close approximation:   “Nothing is so elusive and basically unknowable as a beginning.”   Isn’t that one of a university’s identities?  We are a place that takes beginning seriously; we respect the effort, the fears, the hope, the courage that marks the act of learning and marks the beginning of relationships, term after term, between students and faculty, between students and each other, between students and all the people who make the university function.   “Here they come!  Another year.”

I like the poem Tagore chose to lead off the 100 sacred poems in his Gitanjali.  I have sometimes given it to friends as they get married, one of life’s deep beginnings.  It makes a good read for the first formal day of the Academic year too.   Try reading it out loud.

Blessings on your new year.


john st sj


Today’s Post   Rabindranath Tagore  Gitanjali  # 1

Thou hast made me endless,  such is thy pleasure.

This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again,

and fillest it ever with fresh life.

This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,

and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.

At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart

loses its limits in joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.

Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.

Ages pass, and still thou pourest,

and still there is room to fill.

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