I’m writing these words on Sunday, the day after our 2017 Homecoming football game. What an incredible way to end my first three months! Allow me to restate some of the reflections I shared from the lectern at four venues, beginning Friday noon.
At the Emeritus Club Induction Luncheon, I expressed my view of the essential role that FSU plays in shaping lives, leaving an indelible mark that extends through life. A few years ago, I was driving east to an early fall morning meeting in New Hampshire, passing first through dense valley fog, and then climbing into the mountains, slowly ascending through improving visibility. As I entered a sweeping curve to the left, the sun’s orb burning through, back-lighting a fifty-foot dead birch, its skeleton nicely silhouetted. Every branch held scores of geometric orb-weaver spider webs, each fiber bejeweled by countless dew drops, festooning the barren tree. I embraced the sight, aching to snap a photo. Yet the road had no shoulder, and the fog still too thick for me to stop mid-lane.
I thought about the special alignment of conditions that enabled me to see the beauty, magic, wonder, and awe that were otherwise hidden within, invisible as I drove back down later that day. That image reminded me that what we do here at FSU is to make sure we provide the special conditions necessary to illuminate and reveal the beauty, magic, wonder, and awe that lie hidden within each of our students. Our inductees bear witness to our success five decades ago!
I will observe that the Hall of Fame Banquet Friday evening surpassed even my sky-high expectations! The gentlemen representing the 1967 National Champion Football Falcons carry the torch beautifully. I told them that they exemplify the informal, unofficial, reality-inspired FSU mission statement that I have adopted: To inspire, educate, and develop… values based workers, citizens, and leaders… committed to personal integrity, professional ethics, and selfless service. Again, it’s Steve’s interpretation of what FSU does oh so well!
Saturday morning, I helped welcome and greet the nearly 100 Falcon Family Association participants. Because only a staff member or two had heard my orb weaver tale, I related it again, telling parents and family members that they, too, are part of the equation for assuring the right conditions for discovering what lies hidden within! As an old forester, I do indeed believe that every lesson for living, learning, serving, and leading is either written indelibly in, or is powerfully inspired by Nature. I say to you, my readers, never forget my love of Nature and my appreciation for the rich and fulfilling environment of North-Central West Virginia, and everywhere I have resided (and visited)!
I focused my few opening remarks for the FSU Alumni Award Winners Saturday brunch on my already deep sense of attachment to this special institution. I mentioned seeing why folks are rooted here. What brings them back. How this college/university on the hill nurtures; guides; inspires; serves as a rock. A rock that anchors them, their vocation, their service, their spirit, and their life. I reminded them that the Fighting Falcon Spirit is soaring high; reaching deep; and linking the past to the present… and on to the future.
I urged all to take time today and every day… to pause; breathe deeply; feast with their eyes; feel with their heart; sharpen and refresh their memories; and heed the call of Fairmont State University beckoning… again, and again, and again!
I’m reminded of Robert Service’s The Spell of the Yukon:
“It’s the great big broad land way up yonder.
It’s the forests where silence has lease,
It’s the beauty that fills me with wonder,
It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.”
May all of us carry The Spell of the Fighting Falcons with us forevermore! Service includes a line, “Oh God! How I’m stuck on it all.”
And I am!