One of my favorite liturgical moments is a reading that is read on Holy Saturday morning. It is an ancient homily from an unknown Church Father and it begins like this: “Something strange is happening!” It goes on to comment upon the uniqueness of the day after the crucifixion and the day before the resurrection. These days just before the students arrive on campus are similar for me – these in between times. It’s not summer anymore and the students aren’t here yet. Something strange is happening!
It is strange that Duke Chapel is closed for the year for construction and our offices have been moved to our house next to East campus. It is strange that there are cranes everywhere all over campus. It is strange that walkways and roadways that are usually means of getting from one place to another are now blocked and redirected. Much of this strangeness is the university continuing to birth itself into something ever new. The rest is the anticipation of what a new group of students, undergraduate and graduate/professional students will bring to our campus. Even for them, all of this will be a bit strange!
And yet there is hope in the strange – there is grace in the different. As a Marylander I am oft given to analogies that hale from my home state, and the Maryland Blue Crab offers us a not so strange parallel. In order for the Blue Crab to grow, it must “slough” its hard shell to create space to grow. During the days just after the sloughing, its shell is paper thin (hence soft crabs) and it becomes strangely vulnerable. But this it must if it is to grow into a bigger crab.
Our campus, in its craned and scaffolded state may seem strange to returning and new students as well. But it is these signs of growth that will bring to rise a newer stronger Duke ready to meet the needs of students for the future. May we all enjoy these in between times, and may we remember that we are likewise called to allow Christ to build in us and with us a kingdom that is far greater than any structures we could ever envision on earth.
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