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Spring Edition
Volume 97, Number 4

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Kathleen Quimby
Falling into the divine embrace

“In the act of letting go of our lives, we return more fully to them,” says Philip Simmons, author of Learning to Fall: The Blessings of an Imperfect Life.  Simmons, diagnosed with A.L.S. (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at 35, taught himself to fall—to let go of life—with wisdom and grace. 

I’d been reading his essays for a number of years, so I knew I had to buy his book when it was published after his death; I marveled that anyone in such circumstances could stay in the moment and write so eloquently of the beauty that he knew was his to enjoy so briefly. I was drawn to the clarity of his fine prose and moved deeply by the courage with which he learns to accept his condition. I felt I almost understood the tremendous loss he was facing because I had much in common with this man who was a spouse, a parent, a college professor, a lover of nature, of beauty, and of life itself, as I am. Yet, Simmons continually amazes me with prose that is always joyous and life-affirming. His understanding of the human condition deepens as he comes closer to the divine mystery into which we all fall. He succeeds, against the odds, in intensifying his relationships with all he holds dear and finds peace. In sharing what he learns about the art of dying, he succeeds at teaching himself and his readers how to live.

—Kathleen Quimby is a senior lecturer in the humanities and director of supplemental education.

Kathleen Quimby joined the faculty at Messiah College in 1985. She earned her M.A. from Penn State University in 1986.

In her role as a faculty member, Quimby relishes the opportunity to further her own liberal arts education as she guides her students. “I am paid to read good literature and cutting-edge communication research,” she confesses. “I stretch and refine my understanding of the world and the people therein as I relate to those who work here—the administrators, my colleagues, the support staff, and—most of all—my beloved students.”

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