"A place that goes on whether you are there or not, that you come back to and find waiting with a welcome.”
We all have our personal memories of the traditions that we enjoyed while we lived together in the Castle. First and foremost, they have stayed in our memory, astonishingly. They rise effortlessly and cause us to smile and chuckle with gratitude each time we think about them. They glow in our minds-eye, and we do not hurry to rush them away, much less suppress them, for each memory is a journey home, a return passage; even better, a homing instinct to a particular place, event, brother, or a group of brothers when you were undergraduate living in the Castle. All the memories cover the emotional spectrum of our years living in the Castle. Take a moment and recall your memories about our Christmas parties, Fiji Island, Pig Dinner, Mud Bowl, The Fiji 24 Hour Relay Marathon, our formals. Not difficult to do, is it? They give you a sparkle in the eye and an easy smile, I know. Its safe to say that we loved all of them. With each tradition and event, something wonderful happened. These events were the distinctive, fundamental core of our Omega Mu culture. They helped define priorities, daily, weekly, and monthly. Because of the them, we lived with assurance and stability, generatively so. We were deeply tied to these traditions and activities, our uniting chain of events. And, in retrospect, we all believed, appropriately so, that all of our daily and seasonal traditions were all structurally important in creating the wonderful fraternal life that we lived in the Castle through all the years that we lived in the Castle. They were, and they continue to be the be-all and end-all of our historically long chain of sustained fraternal good at the University of Maine since 1874.
Although there have been many different iterations on our fraternal traditions and activities, all the variant expressions, for the most past, have created the basis for a wonderful fraternal life, all the while knowing that fraternities fare less well when they do not have good, sustaining traditions. Our traditions were, and they remain, our sustaining hope because they exist for the common good. The tradition, activities, and duties set the daily, weekly, and seasonal tone of our fraternal life together, in every measured way. Thematically, the traditions, activities, and responsibilities were different. Some were very mundane because the were concerned with daily practical matters, whereas as some were more suspenseful, mysterious and fun like the RAM and Fiji Island, and some were magisterial and dignifying like Pig Dinner and escorting the housemother into dinner. However, all of them made things work within the house and preserved the cooperative and enjoyable world of our Omega Mu life. We enjoyed all of them, and we did not discuss whether they were their relevant, old-fashioned, or out-dated. On the contrary, and I think we would all agree, they were all sensible, reasonable and enjoyable. In retrospect, all of them are the underpinning of our historic success, and they remain relevant now. They established, collectively so, a balanced and cooperative fraternal life for everyone that was satisfying. And, perhaps, it is not far-reaching to say that they shaped us a little for the better. I believe they did. They certainly did not hurt. Simply put, our Omega Mu memories resonate powerfully with all of us, still, because these events and traditions link generations of Omega Mu Fijis.
Clear and distinct Omega Mu memories still cause us to smile and be proud that we are Omega Mu Fijis. We are, as you all know, an exemplary brotherhood. What’s more, that is a certain historic fact and truth since 1874. Upon that fact there is no debate. We remain proud of this fact through life, and we have no problem telling others, with fraternal, evangelical pride, that we lived in a beautiful fraternity home with a great group of men during college, and we continue to champion the fraternal life. Furthermore, I am equally sure that we are all thankful for whatever coincidence brought all of us to the front door of the Castle, our historic fraternal home. Thank God we did not turn back!
We are, rightly so, a brotherhood family. That being said, I believe all Omega Mu Fijis will smile with understanding, in the truest way possible, what Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated about home in Letters and Papers from Prison:
“Most people have forgotten nowadays what house can mean, though some of us have come to realize it as never before. It is a kingdom of its own in the midst of the world, a stronghold amid life’s storms and stresses, a refuge, even a sanctuary.”
It is fitting to recall the fraternal feel of all the sights, sounds, smell, laughter, and joy of our annual Christmas party in our stately Castle. We can see Brother Santa, fraternally and spiritually intoxicated, delivering well-sauced remarks to all the brothers gathered in the dinning room, all of them smiling and merry. The groans, smiles, sights, and laughter of the evening were timeless. Indeed, in sight and sound, it was always a wonderful evening, and we still contemplate how Santa made it through the evening. It was high performance art, spirited in all the right, indulgent ways. To be fair, we were all, in one way or another, uplifted by the fraternal warmth and humor the entire evening. It was vintage Omega Mu Fiji. There certainly was no malaise, only a deeply felts sense of brotherly well-being, cheerfulness, and fraternal contentment in being together in the Castle. In fraternal mood and emotion, the pictures show The Merry Heart, to use a Robertson Davies book title, of our Omega Mu brotherhood, and that is what matters the most.
We all hail from 79 College Avenue, home of the oldest and best fraternal brotherhood at the University of Maine, and that is the best Omega Mu memory. It is who we proudly are, without qualification. But, again, we all know that. Merry Christmas, Omega Mu Brothers. Let your Christmas memories rise and surface, and enjoy the resonating sound and color of the following Christmas Party homage pictures. They are everlasting. Perge.
“What if the space be long and wide,
That parts us from our brother’s side
A soul-joined chain unites our band,
And memory links us hand in hand.”
(Phi Gamma Delta fraternity song)
Chip Chapman, ’82