The end of August marks a kind of turning point for me, for colleagues, and for our students and their families. It is a kind of time that might be named a “cusp time” or perhaps an “around the corner time” as per my blog title. In my world, professors begin to turn their attention from summer research and writing projects to syllabi and committee responsibilities, but more importantly we begin to think about the students that will soon grace our days and classrooms. They are beginning to show up, now in a hallway, now in an office. And even the presence of those not yet here is palpable.
These are the days in which I think I have one of the best jobs in the world: I get to walk with young, and not so young, adventurers in learning. Their eager emails tell me that they have great expectations, and they have every right to look forward with longing for the changes, challenges and expansion that come with learning. Education is aptly named in that its Latin roots mean to lead out. Education is a process whereby we are led out of our sometimes sheltered lives into a vision of a world hungry for peace, and daily bread, and freedom to believe according to your conscience. Education is a profound responsibility, both for teacher and learner who together learn that they are both even while we cannot escape the truth that we each have particular responsibilities.
The adventure is around the corner.
It never ceases to amaze me that what is around the corner cannot remain there. Rather like the cross and resurrection cast a particular frame, or perhaps light on the life of Jesus, portentous events never quite stay “around the corner” even while they have not yet quite arrived. The hallways bustle even while they are yet empty. There is a presence that marks this time. “Haunted” is not quite the right word, but it catches the “paranormal” sense of this pregnant time.
I remember well the excitement with which I anticipated school as a youngster. The freedom of the summer slowly gave way to the expectation of the fall. These two “season feelings” were so very different, and yet each important and mutually informative. These “around the corner” times are times of opening: petal to sun, child to chum and mind to mystery.