Last Sunday, Stuart and I celebrated the last day of August with one of our many bike rides in the hill/woods/lake country here in southwestern Michigan. We have enjoyed watching the grape vines become green, then produce fruit, and soon we will get to observe the harvest.  Next Tuesday another sign of the season arrives–all the neighborhood children will pile back into the vans and buses and trucks they so exuberantly escaped from in June. And so it goes.

IMG_0196-1Harvest is a good theme for all summers, but perhaps especially for the summer of 2009 in our lives. We celebrated 40 years of marriage and reflected on what we learned here. We helped prepare both of our children for their weddings, and now we are only a week away from the celebration of Anthony and Chelsea and only eight months away from the date Kate and Nik have set, May 1. Weddings celebrate the harvest of investments families and friends have made in their children and in the hope of future generations.

Institutions enjoy harvest seasons also. At Goshen College, where Stuart and I served together for 28 years, and where I was president for the last 8 of those years, harvest comes twice a year–at graduation in May and in the welcoming of the new class in August. The new “crop” of students at GC was large and enthusiastic this year to the delight of many.

President Jim Brenneman’s wonderful opening convocation address, which you can read here, focused on Healing the World Peace by Peace. President Brenneman has embraced the core values of Christ-Centered, Global Citizens, Compassionate Peacemakers, Passionate Learners, and Servant Leaders that the community adopted in 2002, four years before he arrived. Each president and administration gets the opportunity to start over–and needs to–but when some of the work deepens and grows from generation to generation,the fruit harvested deserves to be called heirloom. The core values simply named what Goshen College had been at its best in the previous century. They live on because the college continues to need, value, nurture, and support them.

Some of the joy seeds we tried to spread fell on rocky soil during the eight years of my presidency, 1996-2004. But a few other seeds hit pay dirt and continue to prosper and grow year after year. One tradition I especially loved was the applause tunnel. Here is the 2009 applause tunnel:

Below is another Goshen College video. This one celebrates the love of soccer and soccer teams at GC. I love the blend of urban and rural (rapper next to a corn field), the willingness to claim peacemaker identity even on the field of “battle,” and the connection between music,  sports, and the “5 cores”–the five core values: May each new generation harvest them with as much creativity as the one now filling the residence halls, classrooms, and green spaces of Goshen College.

Shirley Showalter

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