“The love of truth (charitas veritatis) seeks a holy quiet but the necessity of love (necessitas charitatis) accepts a righteous busyness.” A wonderful phrase attributed to Augustine, it captures wonderfully the interplay of activity and contemplation essential to spiritual life and to the life of intellectual communities such as a school. Usually the King’s-Edgehill campus is a buzz with much busyness and with all manner of comings and goings but now there is a strange and empty quiet about the place. Instead of the sounds of many voices and in different tongues or languages, there is only the quiet beauty of a Maritime Spring in full bloom.
Yet the life of the School goes on albeit through distance learning. Students (and teachers!) are to be commended for their efforts in connecting through zoom. It is, to be sure, somewhat surreal to see a screen full of students in little boxes, full knowing that some are here in the Maritimes while others are, quite literally, on other continents and in faraway places. The desire to learn somehow continues to motivate, it seems, along with the sense of connection that belongs to the School as a community of learners. It is not the same thing as being in person, but it is a way of reminding ourselves of that quintessential desire to be together in the pursuit of the understanding, in the quest for wisdom. Being together in the spirit is what truly unites.
The strange silence of the campus, owing to the Covid-19 lockdown, stands in stark contrast to the wonder and mystery of Pentecost or Whitsunday. In the Christian understanding, Pentecost celebrates the descent or coming down of the Holy Spirit as the animating principle of the Church. A reprise of the ancient Jewish story of the Tower of Babel, the story of Pentecost marks the redemption of the God-created languages and cultures of the world as against the attempt to enforce one language and one culture through dominance and coercion upon the world - an ancient and a modern story! Pentecost counters, we might say, all the different forms of cultural chauvinism in our divided and polarized world.
I often think of the School in terms of the Pentecostal miracle. For it is about unity in and through diversity, particularly in terms of language and culture. In any given year at King’s-Edgehill, we have more than twenty different languages and cultures represented in the student body. And yet, like the miracle of Pentecost, there is a wonderful unity, a kind of harmony and a spirit of cooperation, that belongs to the character of the School, at once its aspiration and its reality.
What unites is always about what is greater than ourselves in contrast to being closed in upon ourselves. This has been a constant theme in Chapel. And so, too, now, when we are physically distanced from one another, whether it be six feet or six thousand miles, we are still connected, still together in what belongs to our life at the School as a community of learners. One thing is heard through the multitude of tongues, Luke tells us in Acts, namely, “the wonderful works of God”. There is a unity expressed through the legitimate diversity of cultures and languages, a unity of purpose and identity that extends to the life of the School.
What connects us is something universal, something which belongs to the truth and dignity of our humanity. At King’s-Edgehill this is marvellously expressed in the mottos of the Schools. The Edgehillian “fideliter,” faithfulness, complements King’s “Deo, Legi, Regi, Gregi” - for God, for the Law, for the King, for the People. Such things convey the idea of an education that issues in the various forms of public service, in the commitment to the common good. The love of truth and the necessity of love go together. The love of truth informs and compels the necessity of love.
The lockdowns have taught us, perhaps, how to be quiet in ourselves in the love of truth but they have also been about a kind of righteous busyness because we have to be apart for the sake of one another, for the sake of the greater good in each and every community. Such is the necessity of love especially in these uncertain times. My hope and prayer is that in the love of truth we will find a holy quiet while being willing to accept a righteous busyness out of the necessity of love. That will be to have learned something holy and good which will in turn make the return of our being together even sweeter and more precious.
The end of the year is in sight. End the year strongly and well in the love of truth and in the necessities of love.
(Rev’d) David Curry
Chaplain, English & ToK teacher
Chair of the Department of Religion and Philosophy