By BERTIE DAWES WOOD '52
Sophias philai paromen = Friends of wisdom, let us be present.
Last spring our daughter Annabella, age 45, gave up her cross-country trucking job and sold her California rental properties to become a McBride Scholar at Bryn Mawr. We had been communicating regularly, so the fact that she called on an October Saturday afternoon was no great surprise. The surprise was her comment: “Tomorrow we’ll have the Lantern Night ceremony. Do you remember that? It would feel so good to have you watching.” What’s a mother to do?
Philokaloumen met euteleias = We are lovers of beauty in the midst of cheapness.
There was an appreciation in Annabella’s voice much greater than my associations with Lantern Night more than half a century ago. I had simply been moving along a pathway of normal expectations and Lantern Night was part of the process. For her, the ceremony sig-
nified a choice to step temporarily out of the wide world and place herself in the cloisters to sing a hymn in Greek as she accepted a symbol of inclusion among those seeking the beautiful.
Philosophoumen aneu malakias = We are lovers of wisdom, far from mildness.
When this hymn was written, the contrast between seeking wisdom and playing the women’s role was obvious. The contrast now appears between seeking knowledge through rigorous scholarship and accepting without question the slogans of the day.
Plouto ergou kairo chrometha = We are experiencing the abundance of work, the auspicious opportunity.
Years at Bryn Mawr are, for each individual in every generation of students, an auspicious moment involving a wealth of work. This is also true for faculty and staff. On Monday, after reading all the notices in Taylor Hall while Annabella took an 8 a.m. Spanish test, I accompanied her to calculus. The vigor of her
teacher, who utilized this single class period as a unique opportunity to communicate with the students in her filled arena, gave me hope for all of academia. I wanted to stay, to attend the Mozart concert that she recommended to demonstrate the closeness of music and mathematics, to gain an appreciation of mathematics that I have never known.
Athlon ariston kai kindunon tonde kalliston nomizomen = Let us practice as a custom this noblest contest, this most beautiful risk.
When she left her California life behind and turned to Bryn Mawr to develop intellectual talents that had been languishing in the desert, Annabella stored in our garage the unsold CDs of her original folk songs. She was consciously giving up this important facet of her life. She was flabbergasted when she encountered a lively community of folk musicians through “The Point” on Lancaster Avenue and was invited to join a band. On the afternoon of Lantern Night, she gave her eighth three-hour performance at the Pumpkin Festival in Linville Orchards in Media. How could a mother miss this gig?
Enthoumometha orthos hosa praxomen orthos = Let us properly take to heart all that we intend justly to do.
And so, of course, I flew 6,000 miles for two days at Bryn Mawr. I found our 45-year-old freshperson feeling utterly comfortable. When she arrives on the Bryn Mawr campus from her carriage-house apartment two miles away, she is not just accepted by the regular students, but appreciated as a woman of experience in their midst, willing to share. She introduced me to her fellow McBrides, instant friends, acknowledging by their very presence a passion for learning.
Kalon to athlon = Noble is the struggle.
I found in the former basement of Merion Hall a bright, pleasant lounge for McBrides and commuters and in Denbigh’s old dining room an electronic language lab. These are small signals of Bryn Mawr’s struggle to remain fully contemporary, and thus worthy of the finest applicants. Struggles are also individual, as seen in the stories of McBride students. In the lounge, I met bright-eyed Patricia, who entered Bryn Mawr as a junior from Temple; Semantha, a New Yorker who decided it was time for Bryn Mawr when she was hired at $10 an hour; Jenny, a senior fascinated with her fifth year of Chinese; Kathleen, a professional chef; Andlyn from Jamaica; Andia from Kenya, who wanted to get into Wellesley but settled for Bryn Mawr; and Angela, soft-spoken and shy.
Elpis megale = Great is the hope.
Annabella’s hope is to balance the considerable spiritual education that she has already experienced with a formal education for her mind. With this combination, she expects to find her own fulfillment in living, working and communicating for a better world.
Nai, megale = Indeed, great.
So there you have it, my 2004 picture of Bryn Mawr College that emerged as the Greek hymn was haltingly sung by newcomers on Lantern Night. The old gray buildings are in better shape than they were when we left in 1952. The science, athletic, library, and student activity complexes are immensely improved over those we enjoyed. And the guts of our institution—
Sophias philai paromen, philokaloumen met euteleias, philosophoumen aneu malakias ploutou ergou kairo chrometha. Athlon ariston kai kindunon tonde kalliston nomizomen. Enthoumometha orthos hosa praxomen orthos. Kalon to athlon kai elpis megale.
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