Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. Here is a message of celebration from Donna Beth and Dr Paul Wiebe (’56 and ’01)
Donna Beth and I look back to the colors and sounds, the realities, challenges and mysteries of that Kodai of ours with thanksgiving…
Thanksgiving for its placement within the great land of India with all of its wonderful unities, continuities and teachings, whatever the discord that sometimes surfaces.
Thanksgiving for the fact of Madurai and Palani and Dindigul and Nilakottai and Periakulaum and Bodinayakanur and Chidambaram and Coimbatore and Chennai just down the way with their great bazaars, their combinations from “here” to “there” in what they bring together and make possible (and sometimes spit out), their great temples and mosques and churches, their main thoroughfares as well as their twisting back allies, their crows as well as their parrots.
Thanksgiving for the remembered and most proper cups of coffee along with the fine idlis so abundantly available in one or another of the most welcoming “hotels” in Vattalagundu, even in the very early hours of the morning.
Thanksgiving for the looks out at the Rat Tail corner, at Oothu, in Perumalmalai, in Shembaganur, at Munjikal, then out across the lake from the one end of the bund on the way around and up to “Seven Corners”.
Thanksgiving for how our Mount Perumal stood watch over all of our approaches, indeed all approaches, from the East, how great and towering cliffs marched off towards Kerala to our Southwest, how the mists rolled in over Coaker’s during the monsoons, how rhododendron shrubs and trees, and every twelve years kurinji flowers, graced our hillsides.
Thanksgiving for how our generous and most hospitable Kodai people in all of their diversities welcomed us and humored us and supplied us and treated us and were patient with us and shaped us and taught us.
Thanksgiving for our faithful, reliable and worthy watchmen and cleaners and cooks and field workers and sweepers and drivers and builders and purchasers and plumbers and electricians and carpenters and wood cutters and gardeners and planners and office workers and accountants and librarians and coordinators and managers and board members, that is, all of those who put together and maintained and refurbished and refreshed and kept track of and fleshed out and determined what made us as a school and program possible.
Thanksgiving for our house-parents and teachers, our house-parents and teachers with their many backgrounds and nationalities and experiences and specialties, at the same time their willingness – so important in a residential school like ours – along with their designated responsibilities to fill in where job descriptions don’t come close to covering what they need to cover, to fill in where the needs of each and every one of us in no way could well be served alone by however many rules and regulations we might think to devise.
Thanksgiving, and thanksgiving at the center of it all in both spirit and truth, and thanksgiving mostly, as in MOSTLY, for the wonderful youngsters all who studied with us – with me as a child back in the 1940s and 1950s, with Donna Beth’s and my children Keith and Cathy when they studied in Kodai in the 1960s and 1970s and with Donna Beth and me from the late 1980s into 2001 when it was our privilege to work in Kodai – the wonderful youngsters all in who they already were, the wonderful youngsters all in who they were in the process of becoming and, in looking back, the wonderful youngsters all in all they have done and become since, in the grace of God.
Thanksgiving in all such, also in all of the permutations and combinations thereof, in our purposes together, whatever our shortcomings (and shortcomings there were), to hold to all that’s honest and true and of good report, all that builds around and into service and justice and peace and responsible living, all such again and all over again in the understanding that good faith and hope and love last forever.
Donna Beth and I give thanks in looking back.
But also in looking ahead.
The stuff of a good education and in the understanding that we can learn and work together even in troubled times in the building of a more just and peaceful, and sustainable, world?
Ours to hold onto, further and celebrate, to the best of our abilities both individually and together, forever.
Paul Wiebe (’56 and ’01)