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“Be ye transformed”: Meditation for the Last Chapel Service

“Be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds”

These wonderful words signal the transformation that belongs to education. Through the various journeys that Omer and Ashley, Micah and Jenna, Beka and Bryn and Jared spoke about at the Church Parade, you are being transformed, changed in some sense “from glory unto glory.” You guys rock! And, yes, I know, it is not quite all over; there are still the exams.

Transformation. What a rich and powerful concept. It speaks directly to all of the journeys of this year, to all of the journeys of learning upon which we have embarked. The idea of transformation has been a recurring theme, especially in the light of such religious teachings as the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ. For Judaism, Christianity and Islam, for Hinduism and Buddhism and Taoism, too, there is this general sense, however great the differences between them, that there is the possibility of our being changed by what we are given to see and behold.

Such have been the challenges for you and for all of us. It isn’t always easy. But as we have been saying, it really comes down to your attitude and approach to what is being set before you. You could complain, of course, … and become a complaint! Or you can enter into the challenges and the opportunities that have been placed before you and become … what? Immortal diamond, precious jewels in the sight of God and a delight to behold.

Last night, we beheld your transformation into a cadet corps, “a sea-change into something rich and strange.” What an incredible sight! Can you believe yourselves? Can your parents believe that it was you! And yet, there is a wonderful irony that through discipline and commitment, you actually become more fully and more freely yourselves. We cannot live our lives in willful isolation and selfish indifference to one another and to the world around us without serious damage to ourselves; lost, perhaps in some cyber realm like ‘twitterdom,’ which must be, I suppose, the suburb of twits. No. There is the constant paradox of becoming more truly ourselves, both individually and collectively, the more we live beyond ourselves and for one another, the more we reclaim the God-given dignity of our humanity. When we neglect God, we neglect one another, especially, perhaps, the poor in our midst, like Lazarus in this morning’s lesson; we neglect the image of God that belongs to the dignity of our humanity. We fail to act out of what we have been given to behold.

The religious perspective is clear that, ultimately, human dignity means living for God without whom we are not only incomplete, but stand apart from one another and against the world, alienated and alone. The challenges are about our attitude and approach to what is set before us and to which we commit. There are truths held sacred which make holy and beautiful all that we do. Anything worth doing, after all, is worth doing well. My task is to say that it means doing it for God. For then we are lovely in his eyes.

I want to thank you and commend you for your perseverance and patience, your respectful attentiveness and consideration, your willingness to serve and to read, to sing and, perhaps, even to pray. Such things are part and parcel of your transformation.

The poets say it best. Dante coins a new word to capture the wonderful mystery of our participation in God’s renewing and redemptive grace. It is ‘trashumanar’, transhumanised. It is about becoming more, not less than ourselves.

The pressures are great and real. Guess what? They never go away. But here is a final thought for our last Chapel. What is a diamond? Only a piece of coal that has stood up under pressure! That is my prayer and my hope for all of you and for our school. As Gerard Manley Hopkins so beautifully puts it:

In a flash, at a trumpet clash,
I am all at once what Christ is, ‘ since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ‘ patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
Is immortal diamond.

If we will what we are being given to see and do, then, and only then, shall we be “transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We will be immortal diamonds. Then you really rock!

Fr. David Curry
Last Senior Chapel, ‘09