Friday, April 22, 2011

The Crucifixion: James Weldon Johnson

Jesus, my gentle Jesus,
Walking in the dark of the Garden --
The Garden of Gethsemane,
Saying to the three disciples:
Sorrow is in my soul --
Even unto death;
Tarry ye here a little while,
And watch with me.

Jesus, my burdened Jesus,
Praying in the dark of the Garden --
The Garden of Gethsemane.
Saying: Father,
Oh, Father,
This bitter cup,
This bitter cup,
Let it pass from me.

Jesus, my sorrowing Jesus,
The sweat like drops of blood upon his brow,
Talking with his Father,
While the three disciples slept,
Saying: Father,
Oh, Father,
Not as I will,
Not as I will,
But let thy will be done.

Oh, look at black-hearted Judas --
Sneaking through the dark of the Garden --
Leading his crucifying mob.
Oh, God!
Strike him down!
Why don't you strike him down,
Before he plants his traitor's kiss
Upon my Jesus' cheek?

And they take my blameless Jesus,
And they drag him to the Governor,
To the mighty Roman Governor.
Great Pilate seated in his hall,--
Great Pilate on his judgment seat,
Said: In this man I find no fault.
I find no fault in him.
And Pilate washed his hands.

But they cried out, saying:
Crucify him!--
Crucify him!--
Crucify him!--
His blood be on our heads.

And they beat my loving Jesus,
They spit on my precious Jesus;
They dressed him up in a purple robe,
They put a crown of thorns upon his head,
And they pressed it down --
Oh, they pressed it down --
And they mocked my sweet King Jesus.

Up Golgotha's rugged road
I see my Jesus go.
I see him sink beneath the load,
I see my drooping Jesus sink.
And then they laid hold on Simon,
Black Simon, yes, black Simon;
They put the cross on Simon,
And Simon bore the cross.

On Calvary, on Calvary,
They crucified my Jesus.
They nailed him to the cruel tree,
And the hammer!
The hammer!
The hammer!
Rang through Jerusalem's streets.
The hammer!
The hammer!
The hammer!
Rang through Jerusalem's streets.

Jesus, my lamb-like Jesus,
Shivering as the nails go through his hands;
Jesus, my lamb-like Jesus,
Shivering as the nails go through his feet.
Jesus, my darling Jesus,
Groaning as the Roman spear plunged in his side;
Jesus, my darling Jesus,
Groaning as the blood came spurting from his wound.
Oh, look how they done my Jesus.

Weeping Mary,
Sees her poor little Jesus on the cross.
Weeping Mary,
Sees her sweet, baby Jesus on the cruel cross,
Hanging between two thieves.

And Jesus, my lonesome Jesus,
Called out once more to his Father,
My God,
My God,
Why hast thou forsaken me?
And he drooped his head and died.

And the veil of the temple was split in two,
The midday sun refused to shine,
The thunder rumbled and the lightning wrote
An unknown language in the sky.
What a day! Lord, what a day!
When my blessed Jesus died.

Oh, I tremble, yes, I tremble,
It causes me to tremble, tremble,
When I think how Jesus died;
Died on the steeps of Calvary,
How Jesus died for sinners,
Sinners like you and me.

Painting by Bobby Strickland

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Heartfelt Address from a Grateful Alum to the Faculty at Oglethorpe University

Good evening! It is a joy and an honor to be with you all today at the Faculty Appreciation Reception, and I am so grateful for the invitation to address specifically the value of the faculty here at Oglethorpe. I speak from my experience, not just as a student of yours, but also as the spouse of a faculty member at a different institution.

What began for you as a long-suffering engagement with a subject near and dear to your hearts and led you through the at-times hellish process that is doctoral work, has led you to this place. Whatever your story or passion was before arriving at this institution, it has now been merged with the stories and passions of your colleagues and students. Faculty, you all have done something remarkable. You have said yes - to this job, this opportunity, this particular culture.

You, respected folks, are the soul of Oglethorpe.

We, as students, will come and go. Our time here is (typically) finite. We come, we memorize the names of the core courses, we go. You bring us in, tend to us, teach us what you love, and then bid us farewell, hoping beyond hope that what has mattered to you will matter a bit to us.

Faculty, you are the soul of this place that we all love because you are the lifeline that flows from generation to generation. You will outlast administrators, presidents, deans and students. So, we count on you to teach others with the same care and respect that you have taught us.

I know now, as the wife of a professor, what you have sacrificed to be here. You have honored the commitment to teach, pledged faithfulness to that vocation, and often times set aside your own intellectual pursuits that your students might have the chance to engage in their own. The stated mission of Oglethorpe University is to provide "a superior education in the liberal arts and sciences. Oglethorpe's academically rigorous programs emphasize intellectual curiosity, individual attention and encouragement, close collaboration among faculty and students, and active learning in relevant field experiences."

Without your commitment to engage us, this mission could not be accomplished.

Faculty, you have given us a gift. Not only have you pushed us in our pursuit of knowledge, but you have taught us how to *think.* Vicki Weiss, you whom we honor in particular tonight, held this as your highest priority. No matter the position you held - be it academic or administrative - you pushed the students to think well. You , with the help of the faculty and students, helped to craft a curriculum that would create thoughtful, intelligent, tolerant and inquisitive graduates. Vicki, you treated us as family, and allowed us to question and push with safety and encouragement.

I have spent 11 years making a life and making a living, thanks to my Oglethorpe education. But, I do not credit my education to the books that were assigned or the papers that I wrote. I credit it to you, Faculty. When I sing anything in Latin, I think of Dr. Ray. When I win a point at trivia in music and culture, I say a quiet "thank you" to Prof. Bohart. When I argue a theological point, I am drawing upon the foundation laid by Dr. Knippenberg and Dr. Woolfolk. Every time I make a strategic parenting move, I think of Dr. Noyes. I remember Dr. Deppe's infinite patience with me, and the ways in which Lee Knippenberg always advocated for me and the other theater students. When I struggle through a terribly common math problem, I think of Dr. Tiu and how I chose two semesters of Greek over one semester of "Great Ideas in Modern Mathematics." I offer regular thanks to Dr. Rulison for bearing with my insistence that Cosmology have a relationship with music. I wrote a paper on the music of the spheres, which I'm fairly certain was an abomination to more than one discipline. Times have changed, as have some of the faces, but what remains constant is the Faculty's commitment to teaching us how to think.

On behalf of my fellow alumni, I offer you a heartfelt thank you. The value of our degrees is not found in the frames in which they hang, but in the work you have done to make us thoughtful people who are engaged in the world, and seeking to make it better in all that we do.

Thank you, Faculty. Truly, you embody the motto: Nescit Cedere!