Holy MOLY!

The Path to True Happiness

My oldest son, Bob, has been in Thailand for almost a year, teaching English to a classroom of middle school girls. Having never lived abroad before, he was ready to embrace the culture and take advantage of all the beauty and richness the country has to offer. What I, as his mother, didn’t realize was that this journey would take him to new spiritual realms and explorations.

I jokingly asked him the first month of his tenure had he been to Mass yet? Knowing Catholicism was not exactly rampant in Thailand, he laughed and said, “Oh yeah, Mom. I go every Sunday.” I knew this was not the case but I wondered if he would miss his Christian connection to the parish or others.

Over the course of the year Bob shared some of his experiences visiting Buddhist temples and learning to meditate. As an anthropology major, Bob has always been fascinated with learning about man and his culture. This seemed to be a natural extension of this passion. What I didn’t realize was that Bob was stretching himself by asking questions about God, his relationship with God, the world, and where he fits in. I became interested in knowing more about Thailand and Buddhism.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I knew and still know very little about Buddhism but I have tried to read about it while Bob has been there. Catholicism has always been my faith life. As a Christian, I struggle with the notion that Buddhism isn’t a religion per se, but more of a philosophy, a way of life and that there is no God. What about God? What about Jesus? To whom do we worship? For whom may I be Christ in helping? How could Bob find this new philosophy appealing?

In reading about Buddhism, I found that while Christianity is not at all like Buddhism, I could find elements that I respect and do incorporate into my life as a Christian. One website summed up Buddhism as “leading a moral life, being mindful and aware of thoughts and actions, and developing wisdom and understanding.” In my summation, Buddhism can lead individuals to a way of life that leads to true happiness. Being Buddhist depends more on understanding than faith. Buddhism teaches that solutions to our problems are within us, not outside. The Buddha asked his followers not to take his word as true, but rather to test the teachings for themselves by following their Noble Truths. ln this way, each person decides for him or herself and takes responsibility for their own actions and understanding. Buddhists are also very concerned with sharing compassion with others and learning from others to better understand themselves.

I can certainly respect and live with that! Who would not want a life of true happiness based on living a moral life, seeking wisdom, understanding others and being compassionate? Bob has certainly reiterated how kind and hospitable the Thai people have been to him. Perhaps this Christian writer can learn a few things from her son and from those tenets of truth that he has come to embrace.

Posted in Kaky

A Mother’s Musings on Marriage

Musings On MarriageThis past Saturday I experienced one of the most profound events of my life – the first of my three children’s marriage. Zachary, our second son, wed Molly, the love of his life. As a chaplain I probably officiate at almost a dozen weddings a year, but none have come close to the celebration of one of my own. I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and the sense of joy that permeated each moment of the weekend. While not every member of Zach and Molly’s extended families could attend, those that did traveled at great sacrifice of time and resources and did so willingly and wholeheartedly. Friends from as far away as Seattle made the trek in support of the newlyweds, and memories were shared even as new friendships were formed as everyone gathered together.

When the time for the mother and son dance arrived during the reception, I found myself even more emotional and sentimental than I had imagined. As the words to “Forever Young” serenaded our movements, I thanked Zach for the man he had become and the new daughter he had brought into our lives. In welcoming Molly into our family, we were gifted with a new community of her loved ones as well. Love shared is multiplied a hundred times over at a wedding.

Read more ›

Posted in Anne

In an Emergency? Attention Faculty, Staff and Students

The test for the emergency warning system just went off again…must be 9:55 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month. It used to go off at 10 a.m., but faculty requested that it be moved to the transition time between classes instead of right at the beginning of class. Led by Campus Safety and Security and the Crisis Management Team, Lynchburg College’s response is impressive for both day-to-day emergencies and the occasional crisis.

If you ask folks of a certain age, “Who you gonna call?” they will reply, “Ghostbusters!” On-campus emergency personnel, LCEMS, Safety and Security, the Dean of Students Office, Spiritual Life and all of the other folks that work together in emergencies can only make calls if we have the number. Stuff happens to members of the community while they are on campus. People have medical emergencies, they fall, and they trip. When accidents happen, it is often someone in Spiritual Life who reaches for the phone to make a call to family or a close friend. This is my plea: Please update your emergency contact information in the CDS.

I have two “in the field” experiences that are not scientific, but seem to ring true. First if you do not have emergency contact information in the system, the more likely you are to need it. (Maybe the converse rings true – you can cut your risk by simply updating your data?) Second, the longer you are at LC, the more likely it is that your information needs to be updated. You may no longer have a landline at home, you may have changed your cell number, or you may have different friends. We may also need to contact you if someone else has an emergency, so please update your own information as well.

In any given week we may a have few people hospitalized, a member or two of our community loses a loved one, and ankles get sprained. This community is so good at caring for each other, praying for each other and providing support. It really humbles me – the prayers, the meals, the cards that are shared between faculty, staff, and students. Please take a moment to hold campus community members that you know are struggling in your prayers, take a moment to remember those whose lives were changed September 11th, and take a moment to celebrate those in this community who offer you care and support….

…NOW, please go to MyLC to check that your cell phone is in the data base and that your emergency contact is up-to-date. And while you are there, check that your E2Campus emergency notification contact is up to date as well!

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

First World Problems

One of my favorite youtube clips is entitled:
“When Kids In Third World Countries Read First World Problems”

During this short video you see children as well as men and women in Haiti describe actual complaints from First World people. In the background you see typical settings in the developing world….small cinderblock houses, washing clothes by the rocks on a river bank, dirty and dusty roadsides, with pigs and chickens in the background. You get the picture. And these are some of the complaints that are shared:

  • I hate when my phone charger won’t reach my bed.
  • I hate when my leather seats aren’t heated.
  • I hate it when I go to the bathroom and I forget my phone.
  • When I leave my clothes in the washer so long they start to smell
  • When my house is so big I need two wireless routers
  • When I can’t walk and text at the same time.
  • When I leave my charger downstairs.
  • I hate it when my neighbors block their wi-fi.
  • I hate when I tell them “no pickles” and they still give me pickles.”

This short video is actually produced by an organization that works to bring clean water to places like Haiti and India. Its intended effect is to help us hear ourselves in a new way, to understand our own struggles from a different perspective, to make us stop short and re-think not only our complaints but perhaps our lives and our lifestyles.

In a campus setting our complaints might include laments such as:

  • I hate it when my professor piles on the reading.
  • I hate it when my sorority hosts an event the same time as my soccer game.
  • I hate it when they take away Roly Poly and replace it with Dominos.
  • I hate it when the new student center isn’t open yet and there is construction mess everywhere.

When I start to whine myself I do well to be reminded that according to a new study from Harvard and the Asian Development Bank, only 6.7 percent of the world’s population are college degree-holders. We are all part of a very privileged community that enjoys not only food, water, and shelter but also the luxury of an education that helps us develop our potential, opens doors and opportunities, and provides us with knowledge and skills to help address some of the world’s real problems.

So the next time each of us find ourselves complaining, may we pause and consider our situation from a more global context and put our challenges into perspective. It really could be so much worse.

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne

Spiritual Life Fair Wrap-Up

Tuesday late afternoon I hope you had an opportunity to join the Spiritual Life staff on the Dell. There were a variety of activities—coloring mandalas, walking a labyrinth, making prayer beads, meeting a new friend in the ball pit, meditating, seeking safe space, and blowing the shofar. I hope you got one of our first ever Spiritual Life T-Shirts and that you can follow the motto, “Prays Well With Others.”

UntitledMaybe you were able to help build the prayer wall, an interactive center that allows you to take a prayer or leave one. You can respond to joys and concerns in your life or on our campus. You can offer a new insight or respond to the faith questions that are posted. Its new home is in the Chapel narthex (right inside the main doors).Untitled2

The staff of the Spiritual Life Center is made up of chaplains, a Hillel director, the Catholic Campus Minister, our Baptist Campus Pastor, organization staff, and faculty/staff advisors. There are about 15 of us. Our goal is that each and every student has some spiritual growth during his or her time at Lynchburg College. No one will assign you a specific path—it is up to you to seek which path or paths to follow.

So, if you made a connection with something at the fair that interests you, fantastic. If you have a system of meaning, a religious tradition or faith practice, please pursue it, but if you want to know more about what Spiritual Life has to offer, please find us (lynchburg.edu/spiritual-life or at the corner of College and Brevard). If you need help connecting with a local place of worship, we can help you get a ride. If you want to worship on campus, check out the Quaker meeting, InFaith Protestant Worship or Catholic Mass on Sundays. Join one of the many Bible studies or 14 fellowship groups.style2Untitled3

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

Victimhood or Responsibility?

This past week I had the privilege of participating in the 5th Annual John G. Eccles Leadership Summit. Almost 200 student leaders came together from a variety of clubs and organizations to learn about topics such as public speaking, planning events, social media, and diversity. One of our keynote speakers was Dr. John Walker from our Educational Leadership program. Dr. Walker described two kinds of leadership languages – one of Victimhood and one of Responsibility. I have been challenged by his presentation ever since as I examine my own way of being in the world.

How often when something goes wrong, when the best laid plans are thwarted, when things don’t pan out as planned for, or results are disappointing at best, do I look outside myself for the cause of the problem and play the victim card? How much easier is it for me to blame someone else rather than to look inside and ask myself how I might have contributed to the issue at hand? I’ve heard it said that whenever you point a finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back to you. The Christian scriptures offer similar wisdom as Jesus challenges us to recognize the log in our own eye rather than focusing on the speck in the eye of our brother or sister.

As we begin a new school year I’m hoping to embrace the responsible approach to the challenges that await me. If I feel myself frustrated or overwhelmed, disappointed or critical, I’m going to take a deep breath and ask myself two questions:

  • What have I possibly done myself to contribute to the problem at hand?
  • What can I do now to improve the situation for the better?

I recognize that there are real and legitimate times when all of us have truly been victimized and treated unfairly. In these situations I do believe we have both a right and a responsibility to name injustice and oppression and to seek a just solution. However, victimhood can also be a knee-jerk reaction to an unfortunate situation that keeps us from learning valuable lessons and moving forward.

Hopefully all of us who were fortunate to enough to hear Dr. Walker and the many other positive presentations at the Leadership Summit last week will be role models of responsibility rather than victims and blamers. May we welcome this new academic year with a spirit of positive engagement and an attitude of gratitude. Let’s Do This!!

Peace, Anne


Posted in Anne

Mistaken Opportunity

My oldest child, Bob, is currently teaching English in Thailand. His computer broke and an American friend, living in Thailand, brought it back to the states earlier this summer while on vacation. The other day I tried texting and calling Shannon to let her know that I wanted her to take back Bob’s fixed computer upon her return to Bangkok this week. I needed to make arrangements to get the computer to her, etc.

Unbeknownst to me, I had texted and called another Shannon from my contacts list. Imagine my surprise when alumna Shannon Lynch, class of 2013, returned my call. I had not spoken to her or seen her in quite a while. It was so good to hear her voice and learn that she is doing quite well in Seattle, Washington. I felt so happy to have made the reconnection. Wow, how lucky am I to have encountered so many awesome students at LC such as Shannon. The contact mistake made my day!

Shannon, like many students I have known over the years, made an impact at LC and in my life. Besides being a BioMed major, Bonner leader, and a good friend, she was involved with the Catholic Community and spiritual life on campus. We shared our love of Jesus, our Catholic faith, and the need for social justice in our world. Shannon inspired me with her compassion, empathy, and strength to follow her heart and what was/is important to her to change the world. I was never like her at that age?! Wow.

There are so many “Shannons” who we all have been blessed to know. With each passing year a crop of new students graces our campus while graduating students who have matured move on to face new “fields.” We continue to plant, seed, prune, water, give light, and nurture each student. While we all know the joys and challenges each day can bring, the relationships we create seem to make it all worthwhile. It’s a give and take, ebb and flow kind of dynamic that seems to work so well.

Students, be open to invitations of conversation, cultural exchanges, debate, and possible friendships. They will last beyond the four years you are at LC. And as faculty and staff prepare to welcome new and returning students to campus, I propose that we do this: Take time to get to know some new students, follow up with some returning students and rekindle a relationship with an alumnus or alumna. I only have to turn to Facebook to see all my “babies” grown up working, married, parents and contributors in their communities. So many students have touched my life, humbled me beyond words, given meaning to my ministry while having blessed our school family in so many ways. I hope that you will find and thank your “Shannons” today even if you text the wrong person!!

Blessings, Kaky

Posted in Kaky

If we are in a room that looks like us, sounds like us and/or thinks like us, we may be good people. We may even do good things. But… we are not the Kingdom of God.
- Dr. Chuck Poole, senior pastor, Northminister Baptist Church, Jackson, MS

Like all good Baptist preacher types, I attend meetings. I go for many reasons including the need to be challenged professionally and spiritually. At one such recent meeting during closing worship, Dr. Poole offered the above commentary. It made me pause.

I like diversity. I thrive on inclusivity and enjoy differing voices. One of the things that continues to thrill me about Lynchburg College is its openness to spiritual diversity, including the right not to follow a specific tradition, but… Dr. Poole’s comment made me pause and then ask some hard questions. Read more ›

Posted in Katrina, Uncategorized

Father’s Day Reflection

It’s almost Father’s Day. A time of reflection on our fathers or those who have served as fathers in our lives. My father died when I was a young adult. Father’s Day after that was very difficult to celebrate. I found myself avoiding those beautiful card displays in shops, grocery stores and drug stores. They seemed to be everywhere along with the sentimental commercials on television. With time and healing my sadness was replaced with memories of his great love, guidance and tenderness. Now I celebrate the amazing fathers my son and son-in-law are in my grandchildren’s lives. I also celebrate with my husband his immense joy in being an incredible Granddaddy.

Father’s Day may also be a time of celebrating those who are not
genetically our fathers but have given us that same love and guidance. They may be friends, mentors, spiritual leaders, colleagues, coworkers, or family members who have assumed that role out of love, compassion and concern.

This is my prayer for the sacred masculine in our lives:

Blessed are you who guide with strength and compassion …

Blessed are you who love with enthusiasm and patience …

Blessed are you who work tirelessly to provide a home for your family …

Blessed are you who approach life as an adventure…

Blessed are you who serve the community with humility and
perseverance …

Blessed are you who spend time with your children …

May the blessings you are to the world fulfill your life with love and comfort all the days of your life. Amen.

by Kay Higgins
Pastoral Associate

Posted in Kay

Emptying the Greenhouse

When helping to interview candidates for open positions on campus, I am often asked to name one thing I really love about Lynchburg College. One of my usual responses has to do with the fact that we are a bit like a greenhouse for students who come to us in various stages of growth and development. Some are seeds needing a great deal of academic supportive soil and social fertilizer. Others are well are on their way to being mature plants but with the possibility of becoming the cream of the crop in their chosen field. At Lynchburg College, no matter how a student comes to us, we have the tools and resources that will help them develop into their full potential if they are open to the challenge as well as the support that we provide.

As one of the many keepers of the virtual greenhouse, I have had the privilege of watching growth happen right before my eyes. I marvel as students discover their passions, embrace a sense of family in athletic teams, clubs and organizations, and create lifelong relationships that will sustain their spirits for years to come. And now it is time to watch this new growth be transplanted in other fields whether that be graduate school, jobs or internships, or times of continued searching for the next best stop on the journey.

As the Lynchburg College greenhouse begins to empty out its newest harvest in preparation for the next seedlings to arrive in August, I find myself feeling a little bittersweet. I am generally on an emotional roller coaster, thrilled that the end is in sight and a little down as some of the seniors begin to pack up for the next chapter of their life journey. As we transition once again from one academic year to the next, I offer for your consideration a favorite reflection from an anonymous author who speaks to me and perhaps will speak to you as well:

Well Done

For many of you, these weeks are filled with exciting exits for your grads and others, leaving you sitting in your office or some quiet place wondering how the year went by so fast and how you feel kind of lonely, a bit left out and likely real tired.

Well done, good and faithful and creative and talented and accountable and underpaid and very much appreciated changers of lives (even if some of those changed lives don’t stop by to tell you so).
Get some rest, grieve as needed, rejoice as able, keep the faith, do the job, and ask for help.

Blessings for the upcoming summer – see you Saturday on the dell!

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne