I hope to return through that gate many times before I die. Many describe TAC, a campus of amiable buildings, charming flowers, and splashing fountains nestled among lovely green hills, as “Middle Earth.” A few weeks ago I had Mass in the Guadalupe Chapel, a bucolic little oratory set among the grand old oaks and never-failing springs of “The Ferndale” (the College sits on the Ferndale Ranch). After Mass I watched one of the students ascending to the upper campus. Her ankle-length, earth-tone gown rose gently up the path among flourishing green foliage; her beige head scarf, intertwined with cascading brown tresses, flowed behind her graceful figure. I was reminded of an elven princess from Tolkein’s enchanted land of Rivendell. TAC’s Ferndale, between Ojai and Santa Paula, between the mountains and the sea, is a hard place to leave. Frodo and Sam did not want to leave Rivendell, and I didn’t want to leave Ferndale. Might I suggest that TAC is a “Middle Earth,” a balanced mean between the liberal wealth of urban America and the conservative wealth of cowboy America. I’m living in San Francisco now, which represents a leftward tilt. I lived 20 years in the Central Valley, which represents a rightward tilt.
I will always look at my two years at Thomas Aquinas College as a middle place, where faith and reason, where thoughtfulness and prayerfulness, permits one to live a balance between heaven and earth. It was a dreamy two years, and I am supremely grateful to the founders of the College, her current faculty, staff, and students, and all the good people who live near the Ferndale, a cool and green place where one can learn the eternal truths in order to give them to the world outside TAC.