Holy MOLY!

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

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