It's the thunderstorms that let you know the end is coming. That is to say, I have always identified the last weeks of the semester by the first big storm that arrives in spring. Thanks to the rain, the river is so swollen that it has flooded. Luther, too, is going to overflow soon. Cars will pour out of the parking lots, stuffed with dorm-room furnishings, as their occupants prepare for a few months of a summer job before returning to another year of learning. Not everyone will be coming back, though. The class of 2018 has reached the end of this cycle, and we depart never to return (or, at least, never to return in quite the same manner).
This year, there have been other signs besides the thunderstorm. Last Sunday, I was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, dating to 1776. Few institutions are accredited chapters of the organization, and fewer students are admitted; I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of them. Signing my name in the membership book, I knew that there could be little left for me to do here at Luther; after all, I had achieved the pinnacle of liberal arts success as a PBK inductee.
The other portent of my imminent graduation was much more meaningful to me than a ceremony that was, admittedly, terribly gauche (I can use big words like that, now; I’m a PBK member!). I am, of course, talking about finishing my senior paper. I worked hard on this paper all semester, and I think I made a solid argument for why we ought to look at persons as four-dimensional objects composed of stages which form into sets called sub-persons that are, in fact, to be viewed as aspects of the whole person. I know it sounds like heavy stuff, but it really isn’t too bad (one sentence can hardly do it justice, though). In a hectic week that saw me also preparing a presentation for Introduction to Syntax, I managed to put the finishing touches on my paper with only a minimum of stress. My paper was especially meaningful because it really felt like I put everything I had learned in the past four years into it. I had to employ my knowledge of everything from from basic citation, to first-order logic. I even referenced a text that I read for Paideia freshman year (The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis), which made it feel like my entire college career had come full circle.
The end of the semester comes swiftly with budding trees and thunderstorms, raging rivers and induction ceremonies. There is little left to do but sit back and enjoy it while I can.