After a couple week setback in my recovery process, I’m back with a new Provision and some thoughts on the meaning of life, love, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Bottom line: love is love. It doesn’t matter who, where, when, or how. When the love is true, pure, respectful, and mutual, it is an honorable and marvelous thing to behold let alone to share. Intrigued? Read on.
Friday, February 8, 2013, was Charter Day at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where my wife teaches and works. This is the annual reading of the royal charter, issued by King William III and Queen Mary II of England, which established the College back on February 8, 1693. That makes William & Mary 320 years old as of Friday and the second-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, second only to Harvard. Its first building, now known as the Wren Building, is, in fact, the oldest college building the United States.
The school has a storied history, including the education of three U.S. Presidents: Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler. It is so closely tied to the early history of the United States that it has been called “the Alma Mater of a Nation” • with George Washington serving as its first Chancellor. Charter Day, then, is filled with pomp, circumstance, and tradition. The faculty process in with all their regalia and two, large silver maces. Excerpts from the Royal Charter of 1693 is read, which states, in part, that there should be established in perpetuity a college of philosophy and other “good and liberal arts and sciences.”
320 years may not be “perpetuity,” but as one who almost gave up the ghost after 58 years, it comes close enough for me. The Charter Day speaker was Robert M. Gates, former U.S. Secretary of Defense (the only person in history to serve under presidents from two different parties). I’m sure his remarks were significant and memorable, but my brain can’t pull them up right now. That’s just how it is and we take each day in stride, with no sense of judgment and no real understanding as to how the healing process will go. It’s just good to be alive and functioning again, even with capacities that are constrained by my healing process.
That’s all very different, however, when it comes to the student speaker, Dylan Frendt. Dylan was the first in his family to go to college and he has been active in both on-campus and off-campus activities. He has mentored underprivileged students in an afterschool homework program and taught leadership to elementary students. He has organized and volunteered at blood banks, clothing drives, food pantries, and toy collections. He serves as his Hall Council President and a 2014 Class Consultant. A junior Government major, Dylan intends to continue his community service through non-profit work and charity volunteerism.
And if you think I remember all that detail regarding the student speaker with my current state of mind, I fooled you! I took it right out of the program. But I do remember the powerful speech he gave as to his ambitions in life and how the education he received at William & Mary would serve him well in the years to come. That was powerful enough; but the ending of his speech packed a punch that not even someone with autoimmune limbic encephalitis could forget.
Dylan talked about falling in love at William & Mary with the person he intends to marry, what that relationship means to him, and what it was like to share their first kiss. As someone who has been quite literally saved by love, that story meant the world to me. It conjured up all kinds of memories and fondness that words can simply not describe. Without love I would be more than disconsolate; I would be dead.
In Dylan’s case, however, there was unexpected twist that sent me to my feet with outstretched arms and had the Hall erupt in boisterous applause. The twist was simply that Dylan’s fiance is the man he intends to marry. Dylan, in other words, is gay and his homosexual relationship is no less valid and no less committed than those of heterosexuals.
The bottom line, in my eyes and in the eyes of the Holy One • if you ask me • is not whether or not we are in heterosexual or homosexual relationships. The bottom line is whether or not we are in committed, loving relationships. Dylan has clearly found such a relationship that works for him and I have found such a relationship that works for me. Without such relationships, life is not only empty, it is harder and void of much that gives us cause for which to live and celebrate.
Tears were streaming down my face as I realized how much progress we have made, as a society, that someone like Dylan could be selected as the student speaker for the 2013 William & Mary Charter Day speaker. In earlier days he might have been persecuted and run off the stage. In these days, however, there is a new found openness that I hope all of us can learn to embrace and celebrate.
Love is love, and it really doesn’t matter where or with whom it is directed. Consider these famous lines from the Christian scriptures and you will see what I mean:
If I speak in the tongues of people and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
May it be so for us all.
Coaching Inquiries: Where do you find love? What difference does love make in your life? How could you be more loving to those you work and live with? What’s one step you could take right now?
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Our prayers are with you as you continue through this difficult time.
2012 was a challenging year for you and 2013 will be a year of healing and more meaning and amazing ‘births.’ Be well my friend, and love to your wife – who sounds AMAZING!
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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