On the way home from the store tonight, I listened for the first time to Van Morrison’s rendition (with the Chieftains) of the 19th century folk song Shenandoah.Like many other things the past three weeks, it reminded me of the Academy.
From a purely cognitive standpoint, the Academy was immensely satisfying, and I will transfer a great deal of its content into my 12 sections (seriously!) of U.S. Government this year.
But it is my heart that has changed more than anything. It would be hard to describe what I mean by this, so I won’t (at least not with my own words).
Midway through the Academy, a poem by William Stafford seemed to get stuck in my head, and I’m not sure why or what it means. When I stand in its text, it doesn’t tell me anything definitive, but I feel something, and I wonder if you have had similar experiences with music, poems, personal encounters as a result of the Academy. Here is the poem by Stafford, a western (U.S.) poet, who won just about every major award a poet could win prior to his death in 1993:
From far a light, maybe a hill ranch
remote and unvisited, beams on the horizon
when we pass; then it is gone.
For the rest of our lives that far place
waits; it’s an increment, one more
hollow that slips by out there, almost
a gift, an acquaintance taken away.
Still, beyond all ranches the deep
night waits, breathing when we breathe,
always ready to offer new light,
over and over, so long as we search
for something so faint most people
won’t know, even when it is found.
From “Even in Quiet Places” by W. Stafford