Holy MOLY!

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

Jump, Meditate, Pray . . . Getting Through Finals Week

Monday, in celebration of the last day of classes, there was a Bubble Wrap Stomp in front of Schewel Hall, sponsored by the Spiritual Life Center. We had a blast! There is something therapeutic about popping bubble wrap, and it turns out jumping on it is even more fun. Even folks who wouldn’t risk the jumping smiled as they walked by, and echoes of giggles could be heard in the Dell.

Today marks the first day of exams, so you may be feeling a little stressed. If you need a light-hearted giggle, I invite you to watch the YouTube video of the Bubble Wrap Stomp. It will do your spirit well to see others letting loose (http://bit.ly/bubblestomp).
If a bit of meditation is more of your style, might I suggest sitting in a quiet place for ten minutes, breathing in calm and breathing out stress. Start with your feet, breathing calm into your feet and releasing the stress. Continue one part of the body at a time until you can take calm into your head and then release the last bit of stress.

If a prayer for anxiety is what you need, may I suggest this prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola:

Lord, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness,
give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength.
Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love.
Bless us with your strengthening power
so nothing may frighten or worry us.
We trust that in living close to you,
we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

And if you are carefree and all your academics are behind you for now, here is Catherine Odell’s Prayer, entitled A Child’s Summer Vacation Prayer:

No more homework no more tests.
No more getting up for school.
No more book reports or studying.
My summer vacation begins today!
I’m so happy and I’m so free.
I want to read and get up late.
I want to ride my bike and swim.
I want to play more with my friends.
Please bless my summer days, dear God.
Keep me safe and happy.

May you get done what you need to and lay the other burdens aside and just be.

Blessings and good luck! Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

Offer It Up!

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As I write this column, the rain has been pouring down for several hours, at times in torrents with strong winds. It’s enough to make a body want to go back to bed, pull the covers over one’s head and wait to start all over another time. But even as I have these thoughts, I hear the voice of my mother whisper in my subconscious’ ear: “Offer it up!”

I don’t know if it was true for other faith traditions, but in many a Catholic household, “offer it up” was a standard reply to almost any whining complaint. The underlying message being that when we were dealing with a struggle or a challenge, we could offer our minor sufferings to God, perhaps in exchange for a blessing. Then and even now, I didn’t really appreciate the response. I wanted to be able to vent and moan and groan and complain. From a pastoral perspective, I think there can be value in expressing the full range of our feelings, recognizing that no emotion is “wrong” as long as the emotion is expressed and processed in a helpful and constructive way.

As an older adult I have come to appreciate my mother’s wisdom in a slightly different way. Instead of “offering it up” when I am faced with a difficulty, I try to see it as a possible avenue to solidarity – an opportunity to have even a tiny glimpse of what others might be going through in similar though much more extreme situations. When I hate the bad weather, I can think about what the folks in Arkansas and other states are dealing with in the aftermath of a tornado. I may be more likely to participate in relief efforts because I’ve thought about what they’re going through.

I don’t get sick often, but when I am feeling under the weather I’m reminded of what people endure who have chronic pain or terminal illness. In doing so I may be prompted to write a note to someone who is sick, fix a meal, or contribute to an organization committed to eradicating a particular disease.
When I am down in the dumps or feeling in a foul mood, I recognize that others wake up every day to the full weight of clinical depression and for whom simply getting up in the morning is a mammoth undertaking. Recognizing even a moment of their struggle may motivate me to participate in the upcoming “Pete Warren Walk for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention.”

To be in solidarity does not mean we ignore our own aches and pains, sorrows or struggles or dismiss the real and legitimate challenges in our own lives. To be in solidarity does mean that by recognizing our connection in times of suffering, we may be more likely to reach out to others in care and support in their own time of need.

Peace, Anne

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Posted in Anne

Cleansing, Pruning, and Renewal

In his book The Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne offers these words:

Everyone in our culture has been deeply polluted
by the noise and garbage of this world,
and we all need to be washed clean.
We need minds that are renewed and uncluttered
so they are free to dream again.

What is it about a non-traditionalist that invites us to imagine better? How does a wordsmith pen the perfect word to describe a state we didn’t know we were in the middle of and at the same time invoke in us a sense of outrage and longing for better? Granted, we can name the garbage…and the noise. But to say we are polluted implies a subtle tainting of our original intent to the point that pollution defines our perception of reality.

Shaped by culture, we need seasons of renewal and uncluttering. It is the only way we can see reality unpolluted. In order for us to dream purely, unbridled and free, we need to be washed clean. Maybe that is why I love Spring. The smells, sights, warmth and even showers provide a visual of cleansing, renewal and pruning. Not long ago it was winter and soon it will be summer, but for now it is Spring…a gift by the Creator of renewal, rebirth and re-creation. A do-over if you will…a chance to dream again.

I know we are headed to the semester’s close. I know the days will tick away quickly and soon we will be gathered for commencement. But before then, wander across campus. Kick off your shoes and enjoy the grass in the Dell. Plop yourself in a signature LC red chair and just breathe. Lay on the ground and cloud watch. Inhale the smells of the season and re-create, renew and cast aside the clutter.

May your dreams be glorious!

Katrina

Posted in Katrina

Hate Crime

This is the list I’m reflecting on:

  • A seminary friend posted on Facebook that his friend lost two family members – a cousin and grandson – in the Kansas City shootings.
  • A text from our Hillel director came in that there had been shootings at a Jewish community Center on the eve of Passover.
  • Kansas City investigators announced that the shooter will be charged with a federal hate crime, while I sat in a diversely crowded doctor’s office waiting room with a two-year-old.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center’s website has a bio on the shooter, and from there I navigated to the list of hate groups in Virginia.

I cannot believe we live in a world where we are still so consumed with hate and self-centeredness that we judge other humans by the color of their skin, their faith or non-faith tradition. I cannot believe that killing a Methodist boy at a Jewish Community Center furthers anyone’s agenda, even that of an “Anti-Semite.”

Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

Shout Out to LC

Although a Christmas carol proclaims that “It’s the most wonderful time of the year…” I have to disagree. At Lynchburg College I’m quite sure that April is the most wonderful time of the year, and to prove my point I’ve come up with my “My Top Ten Reasons to Give a Shout Out to LC in April.”

10. The campus is extraordinarily beautiful, thanks in large part to Mother Nature and the Physical Plant grounds crew working in concert with each other (with apologies to allergy sufferers for whom April brings on all manner of congestion and sinus irritation).

9.  Students raise thousands of dollars, don outrageous costumes, sell creative wares, and walk all night long to heighten awareness of cancer and to fight the disease at the annual Relay for Life. Read more ›

Posted in Anne

Prayer in a 21st Century Worldview

When some folks talk about religious vocation, they are speaking of going into church work as a pastor. In the Roman Catholic Church, the traditional understanding is that there are three “vocations”— marriage, single life (virginity) or consecration to a religious life (celibacy). So I understand when people (and particularly students) get worried when I mention vocation. A more contemporary understanding of vocation is defining one’s professional path, whether that is religious or not. Although you might guess that the Chaplain understands anyone’s choice of professional path as a spiritual discipline. I believe that our life of faith is intertwined with our life’s work and that faith and our spiritual path defines all that we do.

One of my goals at Lynchburg College is to help students, and occasionally staff and faculty, discern about their vocation. Particularly for young adults under economic pressure to earn a “good living,” it is increasingly difficult to hear the spirit as you choose lifework.  The Jennie Cutler Shumate Lecture was endowed for precisely this reason; providing the opportunity to talk about faith and work is something that needed to happen on our campus.

Next Monday evening the community is invited to gather at 7:30 in Snidow Chapel for the Jennie Cutler Shumate Lecture on Christian Ministry. Michael Morwood, author and theologian-in-residence at Kirkridge Retreat Center in Bangor, Pennsylvania, will be the speaker. Michael was a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart for 38 years, 29 years as a Catholic priest. He has an MA in Pastoral Ministry from Boston College, and he married Maria Kelly in March 2000. His particular interest is in helping adult Christians examine what they believe, and why they believe it. The title of his lecture is “Windows to the Divine: Prayer in a 21st Century Worldview.” An additional lecture named for the late Lynchburg College professor John Turner will be held at First Christian Church on Sunday, April 6, 2014 at 4 p.m.

Mr. Morwood’s books include: Tomorrow’s Catholic: Understanding God and Jesus in a New Millennium; Is Jesus God? Finding Our Faith; Praying a New Story; From Sand to Solid Ground: Questions of Faith for Modern Christians; Children Praying a New Story: A Resource for Parents, Grandparents and Teachers; Faith, Hope and a Bird Called George: A Spiritual Fable; and It’s Time: Challenges to the Doctrine of the Faith.

A native of Australia, Morwood has more than 40 years of experience in retreat, education, parish and adult faith development ministries. In the past 10 years Morwood has worked with progressive Christian groups in 30 states, in most provinces in Canada, and in Ireland and England.

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

“Aint No Mountain High”

I’m sure most of you reading this will know Marvin Gaye’s hit below. I share it with you as it reflects some experiences I had while on spring break in Atlanta.

Ain’t no mountain high.
Ain’t no valley low.
Ain’t no river wide enough baby.

If you need me, call me
No matter where you are
No matter how far,
don’t worry baby

Just call my name
I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry
cause baby,

There aint no mountain high enough…

Remember the day
I set you free
I told you you could always count on me darling.

From that day on, I made a vow
I’ll be there when you want me
Someway, somehow…

When our LC group went to Atlanta over spring break, we experienced glimpses of God working all around us. We saw firsthand through the preservation and maintenance of the Martin Luther King historic district, the story of racial tension and inequities our country faced then and now and how we might best move beyond it. We shared bunk rooms with students from other schools learning about homelessness and housing inequities and how the hands of God were used in all those who serve and feed the needy. Some of our group climbed neighboring Stone Mountain and came back from a climbing “high” singing the song above. As it’s one of my favorite songs of all time, I kept singing it much to the students’ chagrin.

What I didn’t realize at the time was the speech I read the next day, “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” by MLK, reinforced the lyrics in the song. It confirmed my belief of God’s infinite and unconditional love for each of us and how God is with us through our struggles.  Dr. King, speaking in support of the Sanitation Workers’ Strike in Memphis, gave his forever famous and prophet speech: “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life…but I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you…I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Dr. King knew God was there with him at that moment and that his salvation would be with his Creator. God sent us his son to die for us, and MLK was willing to risk his own life to further the Kingdom for love and justice of each person’s human dignity.

While I read this speech, the song was still in my brain and it clicked…God was telling me that I can and should do more with God’s help to further Dr. King’s fight. The lyrics “ain’t no mountain high or valley low, or river wide” meant that nothing keep God from being present to you and me.  Jesus asked that I “remember the day, I set you free, I told you you could always count on me.” For MLK, the mountain was surmountable in his fight for racial equality because God was there. For me, my hope is to continue Dr. King’s fight for dignity among all humanity knowing no barrier is too great with God’s presence beside me.

Posted in Kaky