It was a scorching day the week before classes when I took my grandchildren to our favorite summer place, the Lake Campus!
There you were, a group of young Davidson students, men and women, gathered in a circle, seemingly sharing a group activity on the beach. Soon, your group moved to the lake, with everyone standing in a circle. My six-year-old grandson Noah, a lively and sociable little boy, ever seeking opportunities to join any games, invited himself to be part of your circle, and his four-year-old sister Christina (Tete), never liked to be left out, soon followed his lead.
I had my back towards you since I was watching my two-year-old Abigail happily splashing away; I was also a bit embarrassed since we forgot Abbie’s swimsuit. Abbie, however, utterly oblivious to judgement of the world, continued her swimming in the buff with sheer joy.
I was also concerned that Noah and Christina might be interrupting your group activity!
I felt more at ease when I began to hear conversation between the students and the children; you showed much interest in them as I heard them introducing themselves, with Christina’s chirpy voice announcing that she was “from America” and Noah happily announcing a long anticipated event, that his birthday would come the following day!
I kept waiting for the moment when the children would be disinvited by you, so your group could continue with your planned activity, but that never took place. You continued to make time for them and showed your interest in them.
Soon your group moved ashore to a picnic table and I assumed, to eat!
The next day I attended our department retreat, so the children’s parents took them to the Lake Campus.
When I came home the children’s dad told me that “the same group” was there at the Lake Campus. As soon as Noah was spotted, the group spontaneously sang “Happy Birthday” to him!
What a great gift, what a great memory you have created for not only Noah but for his family as well!
In a world that is gripped by pandemic, unrest in the Middle East, and natural disasters, what with the fire and drought in the west and hurricanes elsewhere, when all that we see is the leaden color of despair, you and students like you are that very ray of sunshine that bursts through the dark clouds, that offers such love and joy and compassion and all the gifts that warms the hearts and melts the most hardened hearts!
Admittedly, and with much shame, your generation has inherited a world that is, in all honesty, a mess! We have done horrible things to our environment, we have further the division between people, drawing deep rifts in race, beliefs, and political agendas!
There was a time when little children declared that “they would grow up to save the world,” they would get a pat on the head as their elders would say, ”Oh, what a nice thing to say!”
Now saving the world is not just “a nice thing to say,” it is urgent, and the call to action is desperate!
So my dear students whom we met at Lake Campus, who gave us the great memory of one summer day, please continue to nurture your love and compassion for mankind and to care for our environment! Fortify yourselves with all that you learn here at Davidson in the classrooms and in our community, for the very reason, and I will use a cliché, you are the HOPE for tomorrow!
P.S. Latest on Noah: the day after his birthday he absent-mindedly stepped off a ledge and broke his elbow. The first operation took place uneventfully (thank God) and a second to follow in a few weeks! His dream of being coached by the current captain of the frisbee team is dashed. So if you see a little boy with a red arm cast (left arm) hunting for Pokemon around campus, please give him a wave and some sage advice on Pokemon-hunting!
Cynthia Lawing is an Artist Associate in Piano at Davidson.