Monday, November 28, 2005

Wachet Auf

Today's Advent hymn of the day is most likely familiar to many. The melody Wachet Auf ("Sleepers Awake") was written by Philip Nicolai and later harmonized by J. S. Bach for his chorale cantata 140 (a cantata based on material from an existing chorale). The words and music were written by Nicolai in 1597.

During Bach's lifetime, Wachet was the main hymn for the twenty-seventh Sunday after Trinity. This service fell on November 25, 1731, and it was for this Sunday that Bach wrote his Cantata 140. The gospel reading for this Sunday, the last Sunday before Advent, is from Matthew 25. Nicolai's text tells the parable of the wise and foolish virgins and anticipates the coming of the Bridegroom. In his cantata, Bach used the first, second, and third verses of Nicolai's hymn in the first movement, fourth movement, and closing chorale of his cantata, respectively.

Bach later reworked the material from cantata 140 (primarily from the fourth movement) to write Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645, an organ chorale. Many of you are most likely familiar with the work either from his organ chorale or from one of the many orchestral transcriptions, which are performed frequently.

German text:

"Wachet auf," ruft uns die Stimme
Der Wächter sehr hoch auf der Zinne,
"Wach auf du Stadt Jerusalem!
Mitternacht heißt diese Stunde!"
Sie rufen uns mit hellem Munde:
"Wo seid ihr klugen Jungfrauen?
Wohlauf, der Bräutigam kommt,
Steht auf, die Lampen nehmt!
Macht euch bereit zur Hochzeitsfreud;
Ihr müsset ihm entgegengehen!"

Zion hört die Wächter singen,
Das Herz tut ihr vor Freuden springen,
Sie wachet und steht eilend auf.
Ihr Freund kommt vom Himmel prächtig,
Von Gnaden stark, von Wahrheit mächtig;
Ihr Licht wird hell, ihr Stern geht auf.
Nun komm, du werte Kron,
Herr Jesu, Gottes Sohn!
Wir folgen all zum Freudensaal
Und halten mit das Abendmahl.

Gloria sei dir gesungen
Mit Menschen- und mit Engelzungen,
Mit Harfen und mit Zimbeln schön.
Von zwölf Perlen sind die Tore
An deiner Stadt, wir stehn im Chore
Der Engel hoch um deinen Thron.
Kein Aug hat je gespürt,
Kein Ohr hat mehr gehört
Solche Freude.
Des jauchzen wir und singen dir
Das Halleluja für und für.

English Text:

Wake, awake, for night is flying:
The watchmen on the heights are crying,
Awake, Jerusalem, arise!
Midnight's solemn hour is tolling,
His chariot wheels are nearer rolling,
He comes; prepare, ye virgins wise.
Rise up, with willing feet
Go forth, the Bridegroom meet:
Bear through the night Your well-trimmed light,
Speed forth to join the marriage rite.

Sion hears the watchmen singing,
Her heart with deep delight is spring,
She wakes, she rises from her gloom:
Forth her Bridegroom comes, all glorious,
In grace arrayed, by truth victorious;
Her star is ris'n, her light is come!
All hail, Incarnate Lord,
Our crown, and our reward!
We haste along, In pomp of song,
And gladsome join the marriage throng.

Lamb of God, the heav'ns adore thee,
And men and angels sing before thee,
With harp and cymbal's clearest tone.
By the pearly gates in wonder
We stand, and swell the voice of thunder
That echoes round thy dazzling throne.
No vision ever brought,
No earth hath ever caught
Such rejoicing:
We raise the song, We swell the throng,
To praise thee ages all along.


Melody and text: Philip Nicolai (1556-1608)

Harmonization: J. S. Bach (1685-1750)

Recording Sarah recommends: Cantata 140 can be found on the CD Bach: Magnificat recorded by the Academy of Ancient Music and the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, under the direction of Stephen Cleobury. You can buy the entire CD, or you can get the cantata alone from iTunes. Just 99 cents per movement!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

There Shall A Star

This Advent season, I am going to post an Advent/Christmas carol each day. Because I have impeccable musical taste, you, my readers, can trust that the pieces I choose to post will be awesome, and you should all listen to them.

Today's Advent piece is There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob, from the oratorio Christus by Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn never finished this oratorio, which he intended to be the middle of a trilogy with Elijah and St. Paulus. (Incidently, choir and orchestra performed Elijah last year, and choir recently sang How Lovely Are the Messengers from St. Paulus; it's a beautiful piece!) Among the movements Mendelssohn did complete is There Shall a Star, based on Numbers 24:17.

There shall a star come out of Jacob,
and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel,
with might destroying princes and cities!

As bright the star of morning gleams,
so Jesus sheddeth glorious beams
of light and consolation.
Thy Word. O Lord. Radiance darting,
Truth imparting, gives salvation;
Thine be praise and adoration!

Words and music: Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

Text: Numbers 24:17
"I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth." (KJV)

Recording Sarah recommends: Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys, Evensong for the Feast of Epiphany

Saturday, November 26, 2005

I had a nice Thanksgiving.

The whole week started so nicely; Mrs. Carlberg was the chapel speaker and talked about having thankful hearts, and the first thing she spoke about as a means of expressing our thanks to Jesus was... music! She also talked about working for justice and mercy on the earth, for others, when we are so thankful for all that we have already for ourselves. Then she told the most wonderful story about her mother when she was a young girl.

Her mother is Norwegian (Mrs. Carlberg tells family stories in the most wonderful accent!), and when her family had just moved to Canada when she was a little girl, they were poor and her father was away on a missions journey. Christmas was coming, and this young girl couldn't find very much to be thankful for. Each day, for breakfast, dinner, and supper, they had oatmeal. The house didn't even smell like Christmas, and there wouldn't be any presents. As Christmas Eve supper time arrived, the mother asked her children (there were seven or eight of them) to set the table with the best dishes. Then, on top of those dishes, they set out the old bowls for the oatmeal. The girl was sad and feeling most decidedly unthankful, but her mother said, "children, gather round and we'll thank Jesus for all that we have." She prayed, "Jesus, thank you for all the wonderful blessings you give us. My beautiful children, our family, our home. We trust that you will keep Papa safe and bring Him back to us soon..." As the mother was praying, the girl was watching her face to see if she really looked thankful... and she truly did! Even for just oatmeal! And just then, they heard the sound of Christmas carols outside the door! They went to the door, and members of a nearby church had brought Christmas dinner for the whole family!! Away went the oatmeal bowls, and the plates were filled with delicious food. Before they sat down to eat, the mother said, "we were thanking God when this food arrived, and we'll finish thanking Him now." Again, the girl kept her eyes open, this time thinking that her mother would look far more thankful now than before... but there was no change at all. I liked this story... what amazing gratitude and trust and faith and... it was just wonderful; it made me cry. I can't do the story justice at all as Mrs. Carlberg did, but I wanted to share it as best I could because it's so wonderful. I like hearing Mrs. Carlberg tell stories. All these various women with their theology degrees and such come and speak to us all the time in chapel, but here is a wife and mother with an amazing family history and life story, and a gift for telling those stories exquisitely. She's the best.

That night was a busy one; I played background music with Melissa and Erin at the faculty/staff Thanksgiving party for a bit, then ran over to Phillips to play the Brahms Horn Trio with Katharine and Nathan in the chamber music gala, then ran back to Lane to play with the thankgiving hymns at the dinner party again. Mrs. Carlberg had asked me to play with Nathan, and it was a lot of fun. Nathan wrote me lovely parts to play along with each verse. It all went well. The Brahms went well too... I love playing that piece!

Tuesday FavoriteBoy and I left for his house in Pennsylvania, where we spent Thanksgiving. We had a lovely drive there, even though we didn't arrive until 3 am! We listened to Christmas carols (premature, I know!) and sang along and talked and relaxed and listened to the soundtrack of Mary Poppins and sang along with that too and it was lovely. For some reason, I just love long drives with FavoriteBoy. It is just so comfy and cozy, especially with the snow falling against the windshield.

Thanksgiving was nice and FavoriteBoy's family was welcoming and kind and the dinner was delicious.

We went to his church to practice in solitude a few different times. The organ there is amazing! FavoriteBoy's dad showed me the pipes and they are incredible! It's a huge area you'd never even know was there, with so many different kinds of pipes. I was very impressed and hearing the organ there was awe-inspiring. It's a beautiful, beautiful church.

We arrived back at Gordon tonight, and tomorrow after church I'll have to crack down hard on practicing and Latin-ing and such, but I'm so thankful for the time of Thanksgiving; even though I had a lot of homework and practicing to do over the break, it was still far more relaxing than normal school time, and I really needed that little break.

Yay Thanksgiving... and yay again, because tomorrow is the first Sunday of Advent!

Monday, November 14, 2005

Well, orchestra/choir tour is over, Libby Moothart is now Mrs. Jonathan Rowley, and I have loads of homework and practicing to do.

Because of tour, I wasn't able to attend Libby's wedding. I was very sad about this. This morning I immediately checked several blogs of Biola folk who might have put up pictures or at least a post about the wedding, but all to no avail - I've found nothing at all! I'm very anxious to know how everything went.

I had thought that I would spend every moment of Saturday thinking about the wedding taking place in Southern California, but it's strange how the tyranny of the urgent wins out. Even though a wedding is more important than a solo performance with orchestra, my entire weekend was pretty crazy, and most of my time was spent traveling, trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep on a bus, practicing, warming up, rehearsing, performing, traveling again, and so on. It was very exhausting. This morning Roommate and I both feel as though we're getting sick. Tour does that to you. It just wears you out. It was definitely tiring for me to perform The Lark Ascending three nights in a row. I didn't really get enough sleep all weekend, either.

Anyway, the performances went okay. The first one was pretty clean (although not perfect), and I felt okay about it.

The second night, I had a memory slip. It might be the most panicked I've ever felt in my life. At least when I play with a pianist (a.k.a. FavoriteBoy) accompanying me, I know he can skip to find me wherever I find my place again. But with an orchestra, I obviously can't really expect that. In my mind, that moment of memory lapse seems like the entire performance. That really is most of what I remember. Later friends told me that it was only a few seconds. I played a few notes, went back again, still couldn't remember, my teacher (who was conducting) whispered, "G!" to me, I started a third time, and then was able to keep going from there. Within a few measures, I was fine again. As soon as I finished the piece (and the Bartok Dances that followed), I went offstage and fell apart and started crying. A bunch of kind choir people said they didn't even know what was wrong; they hadn't realized I had screwed up. FavoriteBoy said the memory slip didn't matter since I pulled myself back together and went on and the rest of the performance was okay. Kate and Melissa talked to me for a while, and suddenly the choir was going on stage to perform their half of the program and I was still crying, so I didn't sing that night. My teacher came to find me and gave me a hug and said it happens to everyone, and anyone who claims they've never had something like that happen is lying. He said now I know I can pull it back together after something like that, and that should give me an added measure of confidence. My teacher's wife said "I don't care what you say about yourself, I'm proud of you!", and my chamber music coach came up to me later and told me that he could tell by my face that I wasn't happy with the performance, but he wanted me to know that whatever may have gone wrong, he didn't know about it; he was very nice. Anyway, that was nice. It's weird how in my mind, the memory slip eclipses everything else, but other people didn't even necessarily know about it. Anyway, everyone was really nice.

The third night, last night, went pretty well I guess. My teacher was really happy with it and called it "fantastic." He said I expressed myself - seeing as this is the main goal, I'm pretty happy with that. I had some out of tune notes, but no memory slips, and I feel okay about the whole thing. I'm glad it's all over. FavoriteBoy recorded two of the performances, and I think I might want to listen to them.

Thus endeth tour, and I am tired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Concerts, Concerts, Concerts

Thanks for the comments, friends... er, yeah, it's that time of year...

This weekend is our orchestra/choir tour here in New England. We're going to New Hampshire and Cape Cod. It should be fun, except for the fact that I'm really apprehensive about the orchestra portion of the tour. We just had our fall concert last Sunday (we played Brahms' Symphony No. 2, Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals, and Vivaldi's Spring from The Four Seasons), and it's hard to simultaneously prepare two programs; on tour we are playing Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Bartok's Rumanian Folk Dances, the Vivaldi again, and... The Lark Ascending by Vaughan-Williams, featuring me as soloist. So I'm apprehensive about The Lark in particular of course, but I'm also apprehensive about the Mozart and Bartok. It didn't help that the tour coordinator is, well, we won't go there, but he did not do a good job introducing to the choir the fact that the orchestra is sharing this tour jointly... resulting in some upset orchestra members and one upset orchestra conductor who is very loyal to her dear hardworking students. (The person coordinating the tour is so out to lunch that I'm fairly convinced that were it not for my dearest Roommate, this tour would be falling to shambles. She and she alone has been organized and on top of things and aiding tremendously in coordinating and planning all the things that must occur for this tour to take place. Good job, Roommate!)

By the way, the concert on Sunday was nice. Michael Ingram made his conducting debut with the GSO in the Saint-Saens, and the audience loved it. It was great - AJ was really packed for this concert! That has never really happened before. And people whooped and cheered... I felt like I had landed in a rock concert instead of our usual orchestra concerts. Hehe. Kate Malczyk played the horn solos in the Brahms, and she was marvelous, resulting in many more cheers from the audience. All in all it was a very fun concert.

But now I have the Vaughan-Williams constantly on my mind and I am a bit worried about the whole thing. However, I have a wonderful best friend who surprised me by picking me up and taking me out for dessert on Monday night after we rehearsed the piece, which was fun and relaxing. This same best friend also took me out yesterday and bought me new shoes to wear for the performances, shoes that will go with my peach colored dress. I am excited about that. FavoriteBoy is the greatest.

I'm off to practice!

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Falling Apart

I have had one extremely not-good week.

After having my entire weekend snatched away from me by Herma Williams, Rich Obenschain, all others in The Administration, and Discovery, I returned Sunday evening and my life promptly began to crumble around me; I wanted to curl up in a ball and cover my head with my arms and sob. The organization and unfailing diligence I've sought so hard to implement is slipping away from me. My whole weekend was taken away from me; I was forced to render it void of any productive activity whatsoever. I returned to homework and practicing and not enough time to do it!

Going to the gym at 6 a.m. every morning? That's so last month now, and I can feel myself getting softer and squishier every day as successive mornings go by and again and again I cannot drag myself out of bed at such an ungodly hour; when I finally do drag myself out of bed at 7, piles of homework and stacks of music await me. Going to the gym is something in my life on which I'm not being graded right now. Therefore, going to the gym has to be the first thing to go. Practicing each morning with zeal, curiosity, and determination. That must be done. But wait, you've got to be kidding. I'm cramming things in here and there, practicing with desperation instead of intelligent objectivity. I spent the week barely clinging by the tips of my fingernails to a semblance of order in my life.

When I thought things couldn't get worse, my senile 70-something-year-old Latin teacher called on Tuesday and said, "Hey lady, you know we have a test on Thursday, right?" Well, no, I don't know, because you're the teacher and you didn't tell me, so how did you expect me to know?!?! It's an independent study and I meet with you independently at a different time than the other students because of stupid Discovery that has to be at the time the other students come, so you have to tell me about tests and those things or how in the world will I know about them?! "A test. Okay. I'll come find you in the library. Thursday. Yeah. No problem." Did I just say no problem?! I'm sinking in a mire of disorganization and disorder and exhaustion and wretched wretched inability to accomplish all that I must do, and I'm not even wasting any time; I'm trying so so so hard to stay on top of things and I'm falling and I'm sinking and I can't crawl out of this hole, and I'm not ready for an exam, and Mr. Spires, your exams are ridiculous because you include information that is at least twenty chapters ahead of where we actually are and then tell us "Oh, you can do that" when we tell you that we have no idea what you're asking us to translate or conjugate. And I know I should be understanding because you're elderly and forgetful and a nice old fellow, but I don't feel very understanding right now. I feel desperate. I feel sick. I have had a perpetual headache all week from the moment I wake up, before I even open my eyes, to the moment I finally fall asleep and stop being aware of the pounding in my head. And now, I feel sick to my stomach too. I can't escape it. I can't manage anymore.

Thursday comes. Latin test. I take it. Four sentences to translate. 40% of the grade. All correct. Two verbs to conjugate. 60% of the grade. One correct, no problem. Now, ago, agere. Conjugate in the pluperfect. What is the third principal part of ago? What is the stem? I know all the endings. I can conjugate it in present active indicative, present active imperative, future indicative active, imperfect indicative active, anything else you want... and I know the endings for perfect, future perfect, and pluperfect... but I can't remember the stem. Ago, agere, agui, actus? Ago, agere, agi, actus? I write out every conjugation I know to try to jog my memory. I am relying on surface tension to hold the tears welling up from actually spilling over, anything to prevent them from escaping and running down my cheeks. What kind of exam is this? Can't he have a little grace? Can't there be room on a test to forget ONE THING and still get a reasonably good grade? But there isn't, and there goes 30% of my grade because my brain is refusing to function and I can see the page in the book in my mind, and I can visualize my flashcards, but there in the middle between laudavi and fui is a big blank, and no one is filling it in for me, not my exhausted mind or memory, and not even God when I ask Him to. I hand the paper in and walk away. Maybe he'll give me partial credit for knowing the endings. I'll find out soon enough, I suppose. I'm tired. I want to sleep.

I can't sleep; I have a violin lesson the next day and my teacher wanted to hear the first movement of Tchaikovsky, but who is he kidding, because I can't even play half of it, I can't even play the cadenza yet. It's all too hard - pages upon pages of double stops with no time to relax and play something manageable and collect my thoughts and focus on creating a sound like fine mahogany furniture instead of a sound like cheap furniture with hidden imperfections everywhere when you really examine it. The next day arrives. I wake up with a headache and a sore throat and a stomachache. I call my teacher and cancel my lesson. I feel vaguely guilty. I'm sure his students at NEC never falter and fail as I do. I'm sure that they don't just have good intentions, but they also possess superhuman abilities to follow through on those intentions and prepare dazzlingly difficult new pieces each week for each lesson and play them with superhuman perfection. I feel like a failure.

Friday afternoon. I drive to Boston and play a gig for four hours. $70.00. That's good. Only one hour of productive practice all day. That's no good, oh, no. I come back and attend the senior recital of my wonderful friend and tenor extraordinaire, Wesley Lawrence. His German songs make me cry. His talent and success and beautifully soaring voice make me cry. All around me I see people with everything neatly together and in place. They have what it takes to achieve success and they're going after it. I feel left behind. I can't even play the Tchaikovsky concerto. I won't go to grad school. I'll graduate and get a job waitressing, and I'm already wondering why I majored in music. I'm so worried about playing difficult things accurately that I don't even remember how to shut my eyes and love the music.

I'm realizing how sad I'll be to graduate, and how much I'll miss my wonderful violin teacher and our orchestra and my music department friends, and I don't want to graduate yet, but it's inevitable, and the future doesn't look shiny or enticing, but just scary and overwhelming, and I don't feel big enough to walk into it yet. I suddenly miss my Mommy and Daddy so much, and I haven't felt this way in a long time, not really since FavoriteBoy entered my life, but he's still here, and he's still wonderful, but it doesn't change the fact that I want to go home and walk into my own bedroom and see that Mom has washed the sheets for me for my homecoming, and I want to crawl into my bed and pull the sheets over my head and cry and cry because I have no idea what to do and I feel so inadequate in every aspect of my life. I feel unworthy and unspecial and unremarkable and life is going to completely pass me by, and God, I keep asking You, what is the point and what do you want me to do and why am I such an awful failure at everything? I'm scared. I'm scared of screwing up the rest of my life. I tell myself that in a few years I'll look back and wonder why I wasted so much energy worrying. I tell myself that I'm making myself sick and I need to trust God. I tell myself to swallow the lump in my throat and just keep trudging on, day after day, doing my best. I did so well for the first half of the semester. I hung in there. I'm exhausted now, exhausted and scared and inadequate and bad at the violin and I feel like I'm about 13 years old all over again and all the progress I thought I had made in my life over the past few years has just been an illusion. When I first came here to study with my teacher I felt like a little pool of untapped potential and ability, like now that I had a teacher to kick me in the seat of the pants and make me work carefully and intelligently and diligently everything would fall into place and I could do anything. But I can't. I'm not that good. I'm nothing special. I'm probably my teacher's only student who can't play the Tchaikovsky concerto. He's probably glad I'm graduating, glad to be rid of me and my awful stagnancy and inability to make any progress whatsoever. I need energy and strength and control and more hours in each day. There are no more hours, and I feel like I'm falling apart.

But now it is the weekend, and I am slightly optimistic. Optimistic because I have hours and hours lying before me, still pristine and untainted by my imperfect attempts at using them resourcefully. They shimmer; they await me. And I shall away to use them, like, NOW. Goodbye.

Friday, November 4, 2005

Photos of the Discovery Weekend Experience

One of the girls in my Discovery group has a digital camera. So now I have pictures.

We embarked on our snowy hike. It was pretty.

We made it to the top. It was pretty there, too.

Here we stand on the top of the mountain, no doubt feeling exhilarated by our achievement. You can see my back. I have french braids. You can see FavoriteBoy, too. He doesn't have french braids, but he has a backpack.

Here we are again. You can see me from the side. I have white stripes down the side of my leg. You can see FavoriteBoy, too. No white stripes, but he's still got the backpack.

That's all for now, folks.

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thanks a Lot, Herma Williams

Well, I lost my battle with Herma Williams, the Associate Provost. She called me and arranged a meeting in her office. I knew she was going to deny the petition; I had basically known from the beginning of the whole process. When I arrived (she was 15 minutes late, by the way), she told me that she had decided to deny my petition. Her reasons were something like this: the course I participated in is not on my transcript (it was a program for the summer prior to my freshman year), it is not through an "accredited institution," and then some vague blather about how there are "different leagues of schools" and another course similar to Discovery couldn't possibly offer the "breadth and depth" of Discovery itself. She went on about leagues for some time, basically insulting Biola (the program I participated in was loosely affiliated with Biola) and saying that Gordon "as an accredited institution" (she loves that phrase) can't just accept any course from any school. I finally took advantage of a pause to say that she should realize that every course I took at Biola was accepted for transfer credit at Wheaton, and, "if you want to talk about 'leagues,' frankly, Wheaton is in a higher 'league' than Gordon." To which she hastily said, "Well, Wheaton and Gordon are in the top league together, yes, of course." (I guess she draws the lines between the leagues wherever she wants to, which must be convenient for her; she can make the first division right under Gordon so she can put it in the top 'league.' Clever!) Anyway, then she finally said, "Well, maybe league isn't the best word to use. Let's just forget about that." It was weird. I don't have some kind of superiority thing going on with Wheaton, but I really couldn't resist pulling the Wheaton card on her since she was being so belittling about other courses I've taken at other schools - and let's face it; Wheaton is widely considered the 'superior' school.

After breaking the news to me that she was denying my petition, she promptly started talking about a variety of largely irrelevant things. It was very odd. She started out by saying, "Now, I want to talk to you as a woman. You're a woman, I'm a woman... let's talk woman to woman." Now, this struck me as strange. After all, being a woman isn't that rare. I mean, we make up at least 50% of the population of the earth. So if it had been something like, "You're a hermaphrodite; I'm a hermaphrodite..." - well that's something I could understand I suppose. But two women speaking to one another is hardly rare enough to merit calling the fact to attention. Then she started telling me about how difficult life was for her, growing up as a "person of color" - and I am sure that she did encounter some very difficult discrimination and harsh mindsets, growing up as she did in, I'm guessing, the 60's. But she went on to say how God uses situations in our lives that we don't understand to help us grow, and that maybe He was going to use her decision to make me take Discovery, in some way that I can't see yet, to help me grow in the long run. (???)

Finally, she started affirming and empowering me as a woman. She told me that from my very first emails and conversations with her, she had realized that I was a "very articulate young lady" (or something like that), and she said, "you have leadership written all over you." No one has ever really told me that I'm a leader before, so I fluctuate between being surprised and vaguely flattered by her perception and skeptically thinking that she says this to every woman who walks into her office. She's all about empowering women. She told me to stay in touch with her and let her know where I get my masters and doctoral degrees and how I go on to change the world. Whee.

After she finished her rabbit trails, I asked for a moment to summarize my thoughts before leaving. I said something like this: "I'm sure you believe as I do that the end or goal of any course offered here at Gordon is not the course itself but the character developed, the information learned, the maturity gained through that experience. I have demonstrated to you that I have participated in a program very similar to Discovery, and I have attempted to show you also how I benefitted from those experiences and how I have emplemented what I learned in my life since that time. While I do not have Discovery on my transcript, I believe very firmly that I have already gained in my personal life the same goals that Discovery has to offer, and I regret your decision very much, as I wish I could be permitted to use my time and finances in a more beneficial way during the remainder of my time at Gordon College. Let me give you a parallel example. If you examine my transcript, you will not find a Philosophy course listed anywhere. However, when I transferred here, I went and spoke with the head of the philosophy department. I demonstrated to him the books I had read, the papers I had written, and the programs of which I had been a part, and he was able to realize that I had already gained the end results that a philosophy 101 course could offer me. He waived the course requirement. I think that this situation with Discovery is very similar, and I regret that the administration was not able to examine the situation in a more unbiased manner and see that the overarching goals of Discovery have already been reached in my life. Thank you so much for your time in considering all of this; it's been a pleasure to meet you."

And we shook hands and I left. It was a long battle, this. It involved petitions, more petitions, emails, phone calls, meetings, more emails, phone calls, and meetings, and lots of gathering my thoughts. I'm annoyed, because I feel very strongly that the administration had already determined to deny my petition before they even read it, and I believe they never gave me a fair chance to demonstrate anything to them. However, in spite of this, I'm glad that I went through the whole process. I had to be articulate, well-prepared to present my thoughts in writing and in person, and most of all, I had to be really patient and polite when I wanted to scream.

Goodbye, $500.00. Goodbye, my precious time - 3 hours a week plus one whole weekend plus one whole Saturday. Hello, team-building exercises with a random group of students. Hello, contrived and false sense of "community."

So I spent the past weekend hiking on trails that our leader Aimee hadn't bothered to hike ahead of time (they turned out to be riverbeds and swamps, and we all got our feet completely soaked and freezing cold), freezing my toes off outside while our leader tried for an hour to light a fire (my Mom can light a fire with one match without fail), sleeping in a cabin, being dirty (the cabin had showers, but we weren't allowed to use them; I suppose being dirty helps us Discover ourselves and Discover God better), and bonding with ten other randomly-selected Gordon students. My life is totally changed.

My favorite part about Discovery so far is probably the rule they seem to take the most pride in - when you're outdoors, if you drop some food, you have to pick it up and eat it. It doesn't seem to have occured to anyone that this is very dangerous and foolish. As if a raisin can possibly harm a squirrel! Yes, raisins come from grapes, which are DEADLY to nature and all things natural! But we do know that eating food that could have come into contact with animal matter of any kind can be very harmful to humans and spread disease. I love the outdoors and believe in preserving and respecting our natural environment, but this rule displays the mentality that animals are more important than people... hardly Biblical.

I love Discovery. I'm Discovering so much. And best of all, I get to keep a little blue journal about it all, so later I can look back and reDiscover all that I've Discovered. Whee.