Monthly Archives: May 2015
To live content with small means, to seek elegance rather than luxury and refinement rather than fashion, to be worthy and wealthy, not rich, to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly, to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart, to hear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasions, hurry never – in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.
~ William Ellery Channing ~
William Ellery Channing was a Universalist preacher who lived in the early 1800s. While he and I would disagree on many things, mostly theological, we share a similar concern about preserving the best of the “old ways” even as the culture continues to lurch toward the new. I love the above quote, as well as this one, penned by him at Harvard in the late 1700s:
“College was never in a worse state than when I entered it. Society was passing through a most critical stage. The French Revolution had diseased the imagination and unsettled the understanding of men everywhere. The old foundations of social order, loyalty, tradition, habit, reverence for antiquity, were everywhere shaken, if not subverted. The authority of the past was gone.”
I wonder what Channing would say about both the colleges and the larger society today. These days we could substitute many of our contemporary “isms” for “The French Revolution” and the quote would be as applicable to our day as to his.
Many would say Channing and I are idealists, living in a land of unicorns and rainbows. I don’t agree. While it often feels like a losing battle, my “symphony” is to choose contentment, cheerfulness, peacefulness, and other values that go against the grain of contemporary society–not because Channing says so, but because Jesus does.
What is to be your symphony?
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