The weather may have been gray and wet, but not even the rain could dampen the spirits at yesterday’s Commencement ceremony. Held indoors in the Alumni Field House, Commencement featured a slew of speakers, from Aubree Penney ’13, who was chosen by her classmates to provide the student address, to the honorary degree recipients, professors, alumni and even Bryn Mawr College’s incoming Interim President Kimberly Wright Cassidy.
A total of 296 Fords received their degrees yesterday as part of the Class of 2013, becoming the latest group of alumni in Haverford’s 180-year history. Additionally, the College awarded honorary degrees to AIDS researcher Max Essex, documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, President of the Association of American Universities Hunter Rawlings ‘66, and women’s leadership and advancement advocate Sheila Wellington.
For a detailed play-by-play of the day’s activities, check our live blog here. To read the entire poem that Visiting Professor of Writing Sue Benston opened the ceremony with, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
Photos by Jim Roese.
This day has come.
Last night, as our small portion of the earth
faced away from the sun,
you turned your sights upon the universe.
And though this morning’s sky
has paled with our rotation home,
you still gaze far beyond this risen day.
And how you shine,
drawn by that summons
to a wider space. This stretch of ground
is now your waiting room until departure time.
I’m seeking a memento, just a shard of luck to fold within your hand
or a word to tuck a benediction in your mind––
perhaps, most fittingly, some note of Quaker grace
to guide your journey.
Here it is: I offer it most humbly,
though it rings as a command:
For the old earth whirls along a Sisyphean path around the sun,
which reels along the fringes of a galaxy careening without end
across an emptiness expanding beyond reason: in that wild vagrancy,
what anchor can we find? What calm?
Perhaps the deterring of another’s pain.
Let it stand,
this strange, archaic word––a call, a plea
to pause before the doing of each thing that can be done
by us, or in our name––our Founders’ find,
this compass to steer the human heart
through that aboriginal universe
of absolute zero, ultimate dark.
Let our refrain be to refrain
from exercising might
for the fact of might,
for the power of power claimed.
When the sun burns out, the power’s gone,
and then the deeds that ineradicably happened stand alone,
a history not gone
to the winner but etched upon the night,
showing which things were done:
the cruel, the kind… Every month the moon,
staring with open eye, closes down
to digest that sight.
When it opens again, show it a boon,
show it the beauty of a stayed hand,
a cage sprung,
cowering captives left unharmed,
the sentient spared.
As we spin in that darkness so unknown,
let mercy, a single parting word,
a spark inside the mind,
spangle your course. Go forth:
inscribe the best of what you are
in the depths of time.
~ Sue Benston