This is Terrence Moores graduation address for the 2005 class of the Ridgeview Classical Scools in Fort Collins, Colorado. Moore is principal of the school. I visited the school last week, and was very impressed with the curriculum, the faculty, and the students (and with Jennifer and Terrences two-month old son, Samuel). I wish all commencements addresses read so! This is a sample, but do read the whole thing:
There is an old story, probably apocryphal, about three men working in a quarry who were asked what they were doing. The first man said that he was breaking big rocks into little ones. The second man said he was making a living. The third man said that he was building a cathedral. Now notice that all these statements are true but all quite different. The first man did not look beyond the task and the sweat of the moment. We can imagine what went through his mind: "I’ve broken up fifty rocks today; I have fifty more to go," or something to that effect, from one hour to the next, day in and day out, for his whole life. The second man extended his thoughts somewhat. For him, working in the quarry meant supporting himself and probably his wife and children. And of course, supporting oneself and one’s family is a worthy business, enlisting the virtues of responsibility and perseverance in some measure. But in this man’s mind we see an entirely personal objective, perhaps a grudging admission that man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, without any indication of aims beyond one’s immediate concerns. The third man’s answer is different. He is building a cathedral. Make no mistake: he is breaking big rocks into little ones, too, and no doubt making a living. But the ultimate end of his endeavor, however backbreaking and tedious in its daily routine, is to offer an encounter with the divine. Ultimately, his life is not about sweat or necessity; it’s about rapture. Thus, not only are these men’s answers different, but their lives are different. While none of these lives is lived in vain, they vary in the extent of their devotion to the good and the beautiful and the true. Their words measure the distance between the thoughtless and the thoughtful, between the pedestrian and the sublime.