In the somewhat indistinct stage picture Sasha (blue/gray cape) is walking from the left towards the University Chancellor, Floella Benjamin OBE, just right of center, both with arms outstretched.
In the other 2 snaps Alkmini, Sasha and I, before our chill!
We’ve just arrived back in Corfu after a strange week of extreme emotional highs and cold-ridden lows.
Last week Alkmini and I travelled with Sasha to London, cutting into our winter break in Greece, to attend Sasha’s MA graduation at Exeter University.
Of that super event, more later (see snaps above)….what followed, immediately after the ceremony, was that while Sasha stayed on to meet up with colleagues, we headed down to our hotel, and while waiting for our taxi, in the rain, on the wind-blasted approach to the Great Hall, got severely chilled.
As a result 3 days later Sasha travelled back to Athens alone, while we remained in various stages of decrepitude – temperatures that fluctuated between 37.5ºC and 39ºC (99.5ºF to 102.2ºF), coughing and congested in our London apartment.
Well five days later we have dragged ourselves via Stanstead airport on to Athens and now to Corfu.
We are drained but satisfied, and very proud of this exceptional young lady!.
Sasha’s progress from a budding artist (and this continues – with an exhibition due in November, in Athens), through her initial degrees in communications, and then English Literature, to this 2nd MA (Western Esotericism) has been fascinating to observe and to be a background part of.
It would be easy to ask, with the world in turmoil on many levels, just what value such subjects have?
What can esoteric knowledge offer to widespread individual confusion, in a collapsing society, surrounded by rampant economic mayhem, led in the main by political pygmies, informed by defunct or blatantly irrelevant (and often dangerous) religious and civil institutions (who will ever respect bankers again?) – and a media that seems out of control in its feeding frenzy ?
Well, it seems to me she has now got more to offer society than if she had studied economics or law or medicine – or almost anything else.
Are there any timeless values that can help to rescue us from drowning in the sea of negativity that surrounds us?
Possibly, but in my post-illness, travel fatigued state, please do not expect that I can outline even a pale facsimile of all that this topic-area represents.
Sasha’s subject area is not something that I can articulate more coherenty even in a very basic summary …. so you need to travel to her website/blog (“Hogwarts for Grown-ups”) to discover more.
One short quote from her dissertation (shortly to be published in Greece) summarizes the background:
“The academic study of esotericism ……. seeks to understand the historical pathways carved by esoteric currents, and their often neglected influences on sociopolitical, philosophical and artistic developments.”
Remember if you will that it is these ‘esoteric currents’ that helped feed both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment….and they may help lead us to some new moral, cultural and more sober flowering, in the post-cataclysmic times that must come, after this present chaos.
As for our Exeter experience ….icy wind and rain excepted …. a conventional graduation ceremony was lifted out of the ordinary by two amazing women….. and our daugter.
Floella Benjamin OBE, the Chancellor, gave a very upbeat and inspirational address, and then greeted each graduate (hundreds of them!) with outstretched arms, applauding and encouraging. Apparently (reports Sasha) each received variations on the theme of “Congratulations, well done, make us proud.”
Apart from a fairly mundane Vice-Chancellor’s address, there was also a superb one from Karen Armstrong, who received an Honorary Doctorate. This remarkable woman described with humour and passion her own early years, after abandoning her life as a nun to study, and later to become the international best-selling author and teacher. (note to self:….get back to reading her latest book on the bible!)
So what with one thing and another the whole event was memorable…with powerful memories imprinted….and none more so than our lovely daughter’s open-armed stride across the stage to embrace Ms Benjamin.