Dear College Community,
As a cacophony is a discordant mixture of sounds, the year 2020 has been the equivalent for our life experiences. Coronavirus, elections, and economic worries among others have added to the everyday stresses and strains of living. The result has been a year most will be pleased to see behind us.
In a recent conversation, an acquaintance said to me we all need to remember to “stop and smell the roses.” This individual was reminding me, and us all, to live with a deeper gratefulness for the world around us, to slow down and be present in every moment as we open ourselves to seeing beyond the ordinary. In the angst of our present time, that seems like sound advice and a balm for our weary souls.
Since roses may not be readily found in late October, Albert Camus provides a very viable alternative. The French philosopher and writer penned, “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” This past week, rather than smelling the roses, I have been soaking in the glory of autumn in the West Virginia highlands and finding peace during this time of anxiety.
Longtime residents of this community have commented on the brilliant colors of autumn that have blessed us this fall. A recent drive from Elkins to Canaan Valley looked like a postcard as the canopy of “autumn flowers” made every mile a visual joy. At Davis & Elkins College, we are so blessed that the beautiful mountains that ring our campus are a visual delight of autumn brilliance. We must never become complacent and take this natural beauty for granted.
Shortly after arriving at D&E in 2016 I received a welcome note from an alumnus. Though she had graduated from the College more than 15 years ago and now lives in another state, she offered some sage words of advice to a new president. When the stress of the job and life begin to weigh you down, she wrote, walk over to the veranda at Graceland. Pull up a chair and feast your eyes upon the mountains. If there happens to be a light rain, even better. This alumnus suggested to sit back and soak in the beauty and the solitude. She concluded by saying, “All your problems will be put in proper perspective.”
On the walk to Graceland, I pass my favorite monument on campus given by the Class of 1946. With the backdrop of the mountains, the opening words of Psalm 121 are chiseled into granite: “I lift up my eyes to the hills.” What a powerful reminder that the God who made heaven and earth is with us all our days, especially during the times of travail.
On life’s journey, how fortunate we are to be reminded time and again to “lift up our eyes to the hills” and soak in God’s palette of colors. The stress and strain of life will pass, and the promise of brighter days ahead will be realized. We simply must remember to take time to stop and smell the autumn flowers.
The journey continues….
President Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College