Here I am in an airport waiting for another plane to catch and my thoughts turn to my decision to grant Angie and Edmund a two year leave of absence from RCN.
As I look into the kaleidoscope of working together with these two, lots of images flash across my eyes:
Edmund emitting his unparalleled generosity of spirit from the office opposite my own; Angie walking at speed down the path outside my study window clutching a baking tray of delights for her students below; Edmund sitting in the sun on the bench outside my office window talking and, much more importantly, listening to the students and staff around him; Angie standing at the bus door of a minibus to welcome wholeheartedly visitors from our local mottaks; Edmund, behind the lens, capturing the magic of RCN; Angie knitting and listening in an Education Staff Meeting; Edmund exhibiting an unlikely knowledge of the social lives of Hollywood C-listers at staff quiz nights; Angie twirling around the dance floor at Gammaldans; Edmund sporting a vibrantly coloured kurta; Angie looking magnificent after a trip to the Hair Salon Vidal Edmundo; Edmund introducing students of all profiles to the wonders of Theory of Knowledge; Angie sitting cross legged in the Silent House with students on our Survivors of Conflict and Foundation programmes; both Angie and Edmund cresting the top of Jarstadheia on May Day in blazing sunshine.
Edmund is always there in the wings for me – with his ability to make me laugh, his gift of saying an encouraging word at an opportune moment, and his quiet stillness in the midst of my world of chaos.
Angie is also always there for me – fresh with a new idea as to how we can develop learning support at RCN or run a new project for our partners at the Mottaks.
As they have been there for me, I am most certain they have been there for generations of students and staff here at RCN.
It is always such a pleasure to read the testimonials they have drafted for their advisees – beautifully scripted and exhibiting a deep care and understanding of those in their charge.
A few weeks ago, Edmund kindly offered to give staff, on our of Koselig evenings at Sperrestova, an insight into his life as a Zen Buddhist monk for fourteen years – it was fascinating and myth-busting.
I had always liked to imagine that, for love, (double O) Edmund had lowered himself out of a tower window on knotted sheets to the rooftop of the monastery in the middle of the night, commando-crawled to the back wall of the cloister and then, timed to perfection, dropped into the moving open-topped car with Angie at the controls.
My imagination had clearly run away with me.
With full permission of the Abbot and the community, Edmund stepped beyond the monastery to start a new life with Angie. Indeed some monks were reported to be relieved that he was no longer in charge of recording educationally interesting and morally uplifting documentaries for communal watching on a Friday evening.
One of my absolute favourite images of Angie and Edmund is seeing them on the road to Flekke – walking in all seasons, hand in hand.
I am going to finish with some words of wisdom from Albert Schweitzer – a French-German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician and Nobel Peace Prize winner – which for me capture what Angie and Edmund give to our community here at RCN:
‘Much that has become our own in gentleness, modesty, kindness, willingness to forgive, in veracity[truthfulness], loyalty, resignation under suffering, we owe to people in whom we have seen or experienced these virtues at work, sometimes in a great matter, sometimes in a small.’
As I said in the welcoming address at graduation, you have been role models of humility, integrity and compassion to us all – and you both, as individuals and as a partnership, have ‘lighted’ new flames within each of us.
We wish you some wonderful adventures and look forward to welcoming you back to RCN.
Richard D A Lamont
6th June 2017