Over the weekend, my family gathered for my second son Jared’s college graduation at Indiana University, Bloomington. We arrived in a storm and our first day was drenched. I had visited before, but only in the sunshine. This time, we all grabbed our coats, opened our umbrellas and walked the paths of Jared’s college experience through mist, puddles and rain.
The word college often evokes images of gargantuan brick buildings surrounding lush quadrangles. A smattering of statues enhances the image, helped along by scattered gargoyles, arches, plaques, columns — and of course more brick. But IU, Bloomington campus, has a character all its own: it was built from limestone.
Limestone is a living entity, a dynamic presence. Of course, it doesn’t have a heartbeat — but actually it does. In past visits, I touched the limestone in the sun, felt its warmth, shielded my eyes from its too-bright sparkle. This weekend, the limestone was cool to the touch, earthy browns and whites, glistening gently. Each block is one color and one hundred colors. Limestone and light have an ongoing relationship which, like all relationships, is layered and complex, comforting in its solidity and full of surprises.
Between graduation events, my family walked through campus, traveling Jared’s four-year journey. His freshman dorm. The library. His one foray into a philosophy course. The buildings are different shapes and sizes, with varying exterior textures. Some have a smooth surface, some rough. Some have layers of rock on rock, a haphazard impression, stunningly artistic. Some have geometric designs, astonishing in their precision. Each has its own personality.
Jared graduated from Kelley School of Business, a grand, imposing structure. I thought of the countless times my son had entered this building and I stopped, looking up. I expected to feel intimidated, but instead the limestone seemed to reach out. And somehow, in that moment, I understood the curious power and the odd magic of this campus. Kelley offers a palpable invitation to explore and discover, both within the parameters of the business school and beyond — supply chain, a Gregorian chant, advanced combinatorics, accounting, a Maya Angelou poem. Limestone radiates a world of possibility.
Congratulations to the IU Bloomington class of 2017, and especially to Jared. Going forward, may your path offer one color and one hundred colors. May your journey include solidity, surprise, possibility. May you explore and discover.
May you always become, throughout your forever.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a blogger and author of two novels. Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable, written in reaction to seeing gay students bullied in high school, follows Caroline Black through tenth grade as her new school opens her world. Tightwire, Amy’s second novel, continues to follow Caroline, this time as a rookie psych intern treating her first patient — a stormy, brilliant, troubled young man who ran away from the circus to find himself. Amy blogs about a variety of subjects including parenting, LGBTQ+ and a Rolling Stones concert. She also collaborates with educators who include her work in their curriculum.
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