Beautiful meditation on Job from the President of the Instiutution as he opened the 2007 seaon, using both the Book of Job and its Moby Dick echo ("I alone have survived to tell the story") to talk about narrative, about how our personal narratives intertwine with the narratives of others, about how the narrative of Chautauqua has become part of our own. For the twenty or so years that our family spent a week or two of each summer at Chautauqua, the President of the Institution was Dan Bratton, a Methodist minister who sometimes preached in an official capacity, but whose introductory remarks upon any occasion always turned into a thoughtful and moving homily. The next President was something more of an academic, and I missed the evocative nature of Dan Bratton's remarks. As I listened to Tom Becker speak yesterday morning, I thought, "The pastoral presence has been returned."
One of my favorite parts of the Sunday schedule is listening to the morning preacher present his journey of faith to a small crowd in the Hall of Philosophy as the day winds to a close. John Buchanan is a gifted speaker who made a clear case for the importance of mentoring figures in a young person's life as he described the pastor he encountered at sixteen who brought home to him for the first time the intersections among faith, politics, the arts, and science.
Other good parts: those 5,000 voices thundering Holy, Holy, Holy as the morning worship service in the Ampitheatre began, sitting on the porch of the Athenaeum Hotel with the Lovely Daughter to while away the afternoon watching the sailboats on the lake and reading and writing ~ and, of course, the ice cream.
And the best of all: running, entirely by accident, into an older couple with whom we spent much time over several summers as their grandson and one of our sons, both in elementary school at the time, played endless games of chess. We learned to our mutual delight that their grandson is about to begin grad school at Northwestern, not far from our son's new apartment in Chicago. Here's to the renewal of a childhood friendship!