What Happens Now? Sweet Briar College and the rescue of residential Liberal Arts

                              September 2, 2015

It is the end. It is only the beginning.

“Turn me loose from your hands

Let me fly to distant lands

Over green fields, trees and mountains

Flowers and forest fountains.

Home along the lanes of the Skyway.

For this dark and lonely room

Projects a shadow casting gloom

And my eyes are mirrors of the world outside

Thinking of the ways that the wind can turn the tide,

And these shadows turn from purple into gray.

For just a Skyline pigeon dreaming of the open, waiting for the day,

When he can spread his wings and fly away again.

Fly away, Skyline pigeon fly.

Towards the dreams you left so very far behind.

Fly away, Skyline pigeon fly.

Towards the dreams you left so very far behind.

Let me wake up in the morning to the smell of new-mown hay,

To laugh and cry, to live and die

In the brightness of my day.

I want to hear the pealing bells of distant churches sing,

but most of all, please free me from the aching metal ring.

And open out this cage towards the sun.

For just a Skyline pigeon dreaming of the open,

Waiting for the day when he can spread his wings and fly away again.

Fly away, Skyline pigeon, fly,

Towards the dreams you left so very far behind.

Fly away, Skyline pigeon, fly,

Towards the dreams you left so very far behind.” Elton John/Bernie Taupin

Why is it so vitally important to so many people, alumnae or not, that Sweet Briar College is saved and continues to thrive for another 114 years? Consider the woman inside the voice of this song; aching to be free, not knowing how to regain her foothold on even ground. Sweet Briar offers so much to so many people. The beauty of our campus, the serenity, a calm refuge in a world of turbulence and noise. A place for those young women who choose to immerse themselves in its grace and wisdom, a place to enrich their souls and bolster their minds and bodies before opening the door to a bright new future.

I received a world-class education at Sweet Briar.  I have friends, and continue to make friends, who have stood by me in every possible circumstance. I walked outside on the beautiful campus at the base of those majestic Blue Ridge mountains and took in the scent of new-mown hay. And the bells…I listened to the bells. Everyday. The bells were a constant reminder of the solid foundation on which my psyche could place itself while my mind could risk growth, expansion, experimentation, learning.

The saving of Sweet Briar is more than just a grand experiment in social media marketing and wonderous fundraising accomplishments. The saving of Sweet Briar is the opening the door for women everywhere. Our eyes are no longer “mirrors of the world outside,” they are the windows to a new world.

Today we celebrate a milestone in the fight to continue the legacy of Indiana Fletcher Williams whose vision for educating and transforming young women continues for another 114 years. But really, the battle has just begun. Let us always continue to keep her vision and innovative spirit in the forefront our minds. We have huge footsteps in which to follow.

Fellow Travelers

What if the people around knew just how deeply you cared? How the core of your soul longed for the world to be at peace; for everyone to have enough? What would happen if you wore heart on your sleeve at all times, exposed for the world to see?

“To love is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
Emily Dickinson

I Believe She’s Got It……

“If peace comes from seeing the whole,
then misery stems from a loss of perspective.

We begin so aware and grateful. The sun somehow hangs there in the sky. The little bird sings. The miracle of life just happens. Then we stub our toe, and in that moment of pain, the whole world is reduced to our poor little toe. Now, for a day or two, it is difficult to walk. With every step, we are reminded of our poor little toe.

Our vigilance becomes: Which defines our day—the pinch we feel in walking on a bruised toe, or the miracle still happening?

It is the giving over to smallness that opens us to misery. In truth, we begin taking nothing for granted, grateful that we have enough to eat, that we are well enough to eat. But somehow, through the living of our days, our focus narrows like a camera that shutters down, cropping out the horizon, and one day we’re miffed at a diner because the eggs are runny or the hash isn’t seasoned just the way we like.

When we narrow our focus, the problem seems everything. We forget when we were lonely, dreaming of a partner. We forget first beholding the beauty of another. We forget the comfort of first being seen and held and heard. When our view shuts down, we’re up in the night annoyed by the way our lover pulls the covers or leaves the dishes in the sink without soaking them first.

In actuality, misery is a moment of suffering allowed to become everything. So, when feeling miserable, we must look wider than what hurts. When feeling a splinter, we must, while trying to remove it, remember there is a body that is not splinter, and a spirit that is not splinter, and a world that is not splinter.”

“We waste so much energy trying to cover up who we are when beneath every attitude is the want to be loved, and beneath every anger is a wound to be healed and beneath every sadness is the fear that there will not be enough time.

When we hesitate in being direct, we unknowingly slip something on, some added layer of protection that keeps us from feeling the world, and often that thin covering is the beginning of a loneliness which, if not put down, diminishes our chances of joy.

It’s like wearing gloves every time we touch something, and then, forgetting we chose to put them on, we complain that nothing feels quite real. Our challenge each day is not to get dressed to face the world but to unglove ourselves so that the doorknob feels cold and the car handle feels wet and the kiss goodbye feels like the lips of another being, soft and unrepeatable.”
― Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have

Faded Rose

Faded Rose

She Let Go

She let go.

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.

She let go of the judgments.

She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.

She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.

Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.

She didn’t read a book on how to let go.

She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.

She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.

She didn’t journal about it.

She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.

She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.

She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.

She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.

She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.

She didn’t call the prayer line.

She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.

There was no applause or congratulations.

No one thanked her or praised her.

No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort.

There was no struggle.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.

It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.

A small smile came over her face.

A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore…

~ Rev. Safire Rose