Sitting in the west atrium of Thompson library in a comfortable, ‘70s-colored orange chair. Overlooking a hoary old building with a rustic roof of bulbous tiles. The quad in front of me is appropriately leafy and bough-y, and in the background is a glimmer of the Horseshoe. A female runner goes by, thin but ungainly in style. All-in-all, the pleasant associations of campus without hassles of the drive to alma mater or the flight to Cambridge.
This 2nd floor perch has the association of a “balcony of one’s own”, to paraphrase a famous novel, and in that sense is certainly a cheap vacation idea. All that’s missing is the hot cup of coffee or the cold fount of beer.
....And just like that the powers that be lower the curtains, presumably to keep the building cooler. Some temperature set-point must’ve been reached and my view now obscured. I’m a hog for natural light that even this, this superlative embodiment of interior light, seems lacking, if only due to all the hours I spent outdoors this summer.
So now I move to the grand reading room of this fine library, a library full of small proofs that we still can produce - even in the early 21st century - decent architecture. Oaken bookshelves surround the hall standing on green marble pediments. Crowns festoon the eight-foot tall shelves, and a winged statue holds court in a hall that reminds me of some of the old Congregationalist buildings in Boston: white, dignified, dotted with private 2nd floor balconies. Over the bookshelves a handsome steel bar, thin and seemingly functional as a rest for a stepladder, is actually a light, in this particular case, looking left, lighting up the black Hasidic-looking volumes marked “Encyclopedia Judaica”. Everything is clean and neat and smells new, like a fine hotel lobby.
Visitors come in and gaze about, while one young Asian-looking man stands up to take a break from studies wearing a shirt that says “Gotcha Int. More Surf Hand…always riding the edge…” Being so far removed from youth culture these days it feels like a foreign country.
I get out my iPod and notice that Heather King tosses off deep, profound blog posts like they were pebbles on a creek bed. One in particular reminds me that the big problem with our time seems to be that we don’t love life. Certainly a million dead babies every year attests to that, as does the growing acceptance in some quarters of euthanasia. I have a kind of envy for author Ray Bradbury, who has the love of life in spades. That kind of love is important if only because the sacrifice to Christ of that which we love gives more glory to God than the sacrifice of that which we do not hold dear.
“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and praise.” Of that we can be assured, and that worthiness is due to the upside-down nature of the greatest becoming the least, of the world-beating humility. In the spiritual world humility is king, and the King of Humility is the God who became man and died for our sins.