|Glory be to God for dappled things –|
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Pied Beauty, Gerard Manley Hopkins
I think this is a wonderful poem for us this evening—for it reminds us, in this age where all of us are tied slavishly to our electronic devices—to glory in those “dappled things” around us, and to see in all the wonderful variety of these things, the grandeur and majesty of God.
I believe the purpose of a school art program is to develop this sacramental view of the world, such that in things great and things small, we can detect God’s signature, his handiwork. And I think, too, it’s to develop students with a capacity to see more deeply, to feel things more keenly, to recognize subtlety, to see the sublime in the simple, and to be adverse to any kind of template thinking that tries to categorize all the fantastic variety of our universe into sweeping generalizations.
I want to congratulate all of you tonight for being inducted into the National Arts Honor Society. Being inducted into an honor society isn't merely an honor; it's also a commissioning. I charge you to be students that bring color to the hallways and classrooms of JPII, both literally and figuratively. I charge you to be alert to those occasions when we need to think more about people than policies, more about specific circumstances than the bottom line. I charge you to be, at some level, a nuisance to me as the headmaster—within reason—challenging ME to avoid spreadsheet thinking about our school program and all the ways we serve our students and build community here.
This is a great place—a great school. I'm feeling that more powerfully myself, as I prepare to leave in June. I suspect some of you who are seniors are feeling it, too. It’s more than our beautiful campus, or our very fine test results. It’s about people—the quality of our students and faculty, the relationships we build together. Seniors, as your high school career now draws to an end, I suspect you are beginning to have that strange feeling of being excited about the future, but at the same time, experiencing that tinge of regret about leaving, with all of its memories, good times and friendships.
Seniors--new inductees--all those present tonight, my final charge is to cherish this place, to thank God for it, to cultivate these relationships even more deeply. It’s in those relationships that we experience the glory of God in these many "dappled things" most powerfully.