And I want to comment now on August as an ideal time for the kind of reflection to launch new beginnings.
This blog is prompted by the fact that on Monday I will have the privilege of another “new beginning.” I will be welcoming and then working with teams from 22 two-year colleges who will have journeyed to nearby Asheville, North Carolina, for our Foundations of Excellence Launch Meeting. They will have all come to design a new vision, and hence a new beginning, a grand plan for the improvement of the beginning college experience, for their respective colleges.
I had known for years about the importance of August but it was really brought home to me back in August of 2000 when my wife, Betsy Barefoot, and I were on vacation in England and were engaging in one of our favorite pastimes there: visiting magnificent historic cathedrals. And we happened to wander into Worcester Cathedral where in the pews was placed the monthly schedule that opened with this homily:
August is often a useful month in which to
take stock. At this time, many of us will be
on holiday, or perhaps just simply enjoying
a different rhythm in our daily lives, free from
the pressure of school, work, or the ordinary
routine. For many people August seems to act
as a kind of hiatus: a pause before some form
of new beginning. It is a good time to stand back
a bit and reflect on where we are going and how
we are leading our lives. It is also a good time to
heed the words of St. Anselm, a former Arch-
bishop of Canterbury. “Come now, turn aside from
your daily employment. Escape for a moment from
the tumult of your thoughts, put aside your weighty
cares. Let your burdensome distractions wait.
Free yourself for awhile…
Enter the inner chamber of your soul…
I certainly can’t say it any better than that—or as well. So I will just leave this invitation for reflection at that.
John N. Gardner