In Ron Thomas’s farewell message to alumni in Arches, Spring 2016, he returned again to the subject of home. Here is an excerpt.
One thing is clear as I meet and talk with you in your hometowns: Wherever you are now, when you think of home, so many of you still think of Puget Sound. Me, too.
At every August Convocation (as first-year students and families gather to start their Puget Sound careers) and at every May Commencement (when they gather again, as seniors, to complete them) I speak of that quest for home. I cite Homer and Tennyson, T.S. Eliot and Charles Dickens, Frost and Twain, Martin Luther King and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Eleanor Roosevelt and Toni Morrison. But I imagine I always also have Springsteen's “Hungry Heart” and “Promised Land” humming in my head, too. The point of all those references to home in all those voices: to try to learn something at these threshold moments of our lives about leaving one home for another, about the universality of the idea of home being not so much a destination as an aspiration, a dream, a quest, a goal. It’s a promise that’s always out there.
So it seems right that in the academy we should call the end of all our labors a “commencement,” a beginning. And it, too, is a sacred ritual—like a Springsteen concert. In our end is our beginning, the starting point for all that comes next. The continuation and renewal of the quest for home, and the eternal refreshment of the hunger in the heart that moves us forward, presses us onward, lifts our eyes to the heights, calls us home, and offers a place to seek a newer world.