Holy MOLY!

Chapel to Turn 50!

The Chapel is changing! For some this will be a bit sad but for others it will open the space for new uses and more flexibility. I myself am a bit in both camps. My own theology leans to the liberal side but I have a heart for traditional worship. I like organ and hymns and a preacher in the pulpit. I like liturgy.

As much as I love the traditional arrangement of Snidow Chapel, it is time for the organ and the chancel (raised area up the three steps at the front) to have a renovation. Our organ, Reuter Opus #1548, was built in 1967, and this summer we will be adding stops, unifying wind chests, and replacing leather. I have learned quite a bit about our organ in the last 6 months. The Snidow organ was built in the American Eclectic style which seems to be about right for a Disciples of Christ School. It has 3 manuals and 39 ranks. Our college organist, Johnson Scott, can explain all of it to anyone who speaks “organ.” Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

You Got This!

This week of the year is always a little bittersweet for me and I suspect for many of us. Of course there are bitter moments in an academic year for students, faculty, and staff alike. Each year has its own set of challenging situations, relationships, disappointments, and setbacks. We are ready to move on and let those particular pieces go.

But there are also countless moments of sweetness, and we have hopefully savored them along the way. Aha moments in a classroom when it is evident to both student and professor alike that the concept suddenly makes sense, the lesson becomes relevant, the dots are connected, and the hard work is all worth it. In residence halls and red chairs on the dell, in meals at the caf and late night trips to Sheetz,  relationships are built, nurtured, struggled through, and made to last. On fields and courts, in gyms and fitness centers, on courses and tracks, coaches and athletes alike push themselves to the limit and learn that the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat are all both shared together and teamwork creates lessons for life. In concert halls and on stages, in practice rooms and studios, the arts are celebrated, lifting artist and spectator alike to heights of greater appreciation for the beautiful and the sublime. Scenarios such as these and so many more have provided us with seconds and even seasons of sweetness this past academic year. This week is a good time to slow down a bit to recall and recollect, to reflect and remember both the bitter and the sweet. May we learn to grow from the bitter and celebrate the sweet.

As we journey through these last few bittersweet days, I share with you excerpts from a recent Facebook post by Katrina Brooks, campus pastor at Lynchburg College:

For college and graduate students everywhere we, as parents, pastors, faculty and staff, pray for peace, calm, tenacity, strength, recall, perfect words, centering, outrageous presentation abilities and the ability in your seemingly dark abyss to KNOW you are loved.
Know that not only are you loved, KNOW you got this.
Why?
How?
Because we know you.
We’ve watched you.
We have seen your effort and your ability to overcome major obstacles.
We have seen you soar and we have seen you fail. In both you learned so much.
We have seen you dig deep inside as everything you held true seems to explode. YOU caught what you needed, tweaked what needed to be tweaked and boldly let the rest go.
You are phenomenal and we are so very proud of you.
Today we invite you to dance, laugh, sing, tell jokes, and be silly. Then dive into your quest refreshed.

YOU GOT THIS!

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne

Doing Life

As a part time LC employee I get to “do life” with LC students and youth at Madison Heights Baptist Church. What does a weekend in the life of a campus pastor/youth pastor/mom/ wife/doctoral student who is married to a minister look like? After a full Friday of meetings and one-on-ones with student leaders, I actually had a stay in night with my spouse (a truly rare thing). Saturday began early with a trip to a local church that was having a yard sale and a trip to the community market for produce for the week. After a trip to the big box retail store we snatched some lunch before heading home to pot plants. I then attempted to make contact with our oldest who is graduating from seminary in a couple of weeks. I reviewed my syllabus, contacted my professor to make sure I was on track for my summer class and rejoiced in an e-mail which stated my theological case study is due in June. At 5 p.m. I made my way to LC to participate in the Passover Seder (which was so very wondrous to be a part of), getting home around 10 p.m.  Sunday began early with a morning of “church things” with disciples of all ages, then back to LC for InFaith Community worship. I then returned to church for a meeting, led youth group, and attended our evening service which featured our church children. On the way home I called our youngest child who is making wedding plans, and we talked for almost an hour. What? Last weekend after a full week I took our middle school youth on a mission weekend in Fredericksburg. This was an easy weekend.   Read more ›

Posted in Katrina

Yom HaShoah

Yom HaShoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day or Holocaust and Heroism Day, occurs on the 27th of the Jewish calendar month of Nisan (this year May 4-5 on the Gregorian calendar). Shoah, which means catastrophe or utter destruction in Hebrew, refers to the atrocities that were committed against the Jewish people during World War II. This is a memorial day for those who died in the Shoah. The Shoah is also known as the Holocaust, from a Greek word meaning “sacrifice by fire.” The Day also celebrates the heroism of the resistance movements and those who fought for justice. Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

Remember to Celebrate!

Ceremony is often said to be how we remember to remember. Ceremony also reminds us of our responsibilities to creation. When you have ceremonies of gratitude, you understand how much the world gives to you, and you remember your dependency. Through the ceremony itself — the food, the regalia, the time spent in preparation — you are giving back. You’re putting energy back into both the material and the spiritual world. The two are inseparable. Ceremonies are as much about reciprocity as they are about gratitude.

– Robin Wall Kimmerer

April is here and with it an abundance of ceremonies. Just this past week the campus was literally “abuzz” with the rituals of the season. Whether explaining scholarly research at poster presentations in the ballroom or speaking in front of crowds at various venues throughout campus, students displayed both a grasp of material from their discipline as well as a passion for their particular interests. Once again the Student Scholar Showcase reminded us of the importance of a liberal arts education. Meanwhile, on the dell and in Drysdale the Office of Advancement provided motivation and encouragement for Hornets past and present to give back financially to the institution that they love.  The Day of Giving promotion set a goal for 1,000 donors in 24 hours. By the end of the night, with John and AJ Eccles literally climbing tall trees, over 1,500 individuals had given.

The chapel has also been busy as the site of several honor and leadership society inductions this past week, and Friday night saw the dining hall filled to capacity as every department honored their best and brightest at the annual Academic Awards banquet. Outside of Drysdale on Tuesday the Office of Community Involvement offered free ice-cream sundaes and green ribbons to honor volunteerism on campus and in the community. Later that evening Alpha Sigma Alpha sponsored another successful Ms. LC pageant which was not only incredibly entertaining but which also raised over $400 for philanthropic causes such as Special Olympics.

These are but a few of the many examples of ceremony and ritual taking place this season of the academic year. Some might contend that we have too much to do and we simply don’t have time to schedule in such ceremonies. However I would argue that such rituals are absolutely necessary in order for us to pause long enough to reflect on the very reason that we exist as an institution. Honor and leadership awards serve as recognition that hard work, discipline, and dedication are worthy of being acknowledged. Banquets and receptions bring people together to remind us that we work best in community and that relationships formed are as important as goals accomplished. Recitals and performances, athletic games and matches, allow us the opportunity to be the best that we can be and to offer our talents for the enjoyment and appreciation of others.

If you haven’t yet participated in one of the many spring ceremonies and rituals I encourage you to do so in the few weeks that remain. Gather for a few moments at noon on Friday at Friendship Circle to remember the shooting victims at Virginia Tech and pray for peace. Come to Special Olympics on Saturday and cheer the athletes who inspire and amaze. Join pet lovers at Doggies in the Dell on Wednesday afternoon and give thanks for four legged creatures who brighten our lives. Acknowledge service at the Leadership Awards celebration next Thursday night and thank John and AJ Eccles the following Saturday for all they’ve given our community.

This time of year especially, the words of Dag Hammarskjöld ring true:  “For all that has been, thanks. For all that will be, yes.” Let’s celebrate!!

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne

Movable Feasts

The Passover Seder in the last few years has fallen on the same day as Good Friday (for Protestants and Catholics). It’s a little busy when all the services and Holy Days for the two major religions are in the same week. In 2016, Passover begins April 22nd, and our LC Passover Seder is April 23rd. Easter for Protestants and Catholics was on March 27th, and Orthodox Easter this year is not until May 1st. Someone asked me why the dates change so much from year to year, and I knew it had something to do with the vernal equinox – but when I looked up the details, I was reminded about how religious unity is so complicated. Read more ›

Posted in Stephanie

Sharing a Life Well Lived

Yesterday I went to the hospital to visit a retired employee of Lynchburg College. I’ll refer to her here as “Blanche” in order to protect her privacy. She worked at Lynchburg College for many years. Although I had never met Blanche until yesterday, I had heard many endearing things about her. She loved her time at LC before retiring and returned often to visit and see friends and colleagues.

Blanche suffered a major stroke earlier this week and is currently recovering. What struck me the minute I entered the room was her sweet face yet inherent struggle to get better. I went up to her to say hello and introduce myself. At this point, I’m not sure if she knew I was there or not. Two friends were also there and assured me that Blanche was aware of my presence.

Seeing Blanche made me think about the life she had led to this point and all the many lives she must have touched. It’s as if holding her hand gave me insight into a whole other life that I needed and wanted to know about. What legacy did Blanche leave behind while at LC? Who is her family? What are her passions? What means the most to her? What can I learn from her?

Often we meet people in our lives in passing. Do we take the opportunity to hear their stories? To share ours? We can be so busy day-to-day that we fail to see the gifts in each other. The wisdom and love shared between strangers and/or friends can be so powerful. If there is one thing I have grown to appreciate, it is the ministry of presence. Opening ourselves to others can be a vulnerable thing but it allows for so much growth and joy. Whether listening or sharing, we gain insights into the human experience. We are all linked in our humanity.

We are so blessed here at LC to be a part of an extended family made up of students, faculty, staff, alumni, retired personnel and those who have departed this world. It is up to each of us to take advantage of interacting with as many of our “family members” as we can to reap the benefits of knowledge, wisdom, friendships, joy, sorrow, and the grace that abounds in each.

Before leaving Blanche’s room, we gathered in prayer around her, holding hands in a circle. I let her know that her LC family loves her and is praying for her. She squeezed my hand, and we lifted our hands together in a gesture that let me know she heard our prayer. Tears welled up in my eyes and I made a promise to myself. As Blanche recovers and is able to go home, I hope to hear her story and share mine as sisters of LC.

Kaky Bowden

Posted in Kaky

Go Out and Play!

Today is gorgeous. The breeze is light; the sun is warm and the flowers are showing off their colors. Spring smells are vivid and the landscape is moving from winter’s harshness to the awakening called spring. The wonder of it all calls to me, “Come, let’s play. Dance. Go barefoot. Play.”

It is Wednesday and the minutia of the week is kicking in. I have appointments to keep, people to meet and tasks to complete. To be honest, I am tired. The semester is almost over, I have a host of things to do and everything in me wants to go out and play (barefooted, of course J). I want a hammock and a book, a breathtaking landmark and a journal…anything besides what I have to do now. The youth at church have an expression that fits well here “Are you feeling me?”

Life is an adventure. It is a journey with highs and lows. The rhythm of the seasons sets a pattern of ebb and flow that is more beautiful than an opus. Complacency gives birth to life and death becomes a vital part of a journey.

The Christian story speaks of a week that begins with a wild celebration. Folks enthralled in the passion of the moment, waving branches line the street gleefully shouting “Hosanna!” The week concludes with a trial and death. Shouts of praise turn to shouts of hate, as the crowd angrily shouts, “Crucify, him. Crucify him.” Three days later the story speaks of resurrection…and rebirth.

On campus there are several opportunities to engage this story. Thursday a service will be held which remembers the last time Jesus of Nazareth met with his disciples, a last supper. On Friday there will be an opportunity to walk the last steps of Jesus of Nazareth and remember his trial and death. Sunday at 7 a.m. in Friendship Circle there will be an Easter Sunrise Service and later at 4:30 p.m. Easter Mass will be held in the Chapel, followed by a meal.

The Center for Spiritual Life invites you to these services. Whether you come as a pilgrim desiring to remember or as one curious about this story, you are invited to come and engage this story. A story that remembers death is a vital part of life’s journey.

May your week be a holy one,

Katrina

Posted in Katrina

Return the Favor

This past week of spring break I spent time with my 86-year-old mother and my sister as we traveled by car from Kansas City to my hometown of Worland, Wyoming. For the past five months my mother has been a resident in an assisted living facility close to my sister in Kansas. For the first time since the move, we were taking my mom back to the town she had lived in for 70 years. Since we were together almost 24/7 during that week, I had lots of opportunities to reflect on what it means to be the child of an aging parent.

I was reminded of a poignant video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWJq1SvgWQ0) I had seen of an elderly man and his son on a park bench. The father repeatedly asks his son “What is that?” as he looks at a bird flitting about in the trees. After several times of repeating the answer that the “thing” is a sparrow, the son loses patience and raises his voice. The father then walks slowly into the house and returns with a small book, a journal that he kept when his son was a child. It turns out that one particular day, when the boy was just three years old, he was the one asking the same question of his father. According to the journal entry the father responded with a hug no less than 21 times as his 3 year old son asks over and over “What is that?” Upon reading the journal, the now adult son turns to his father with a tender kiss and embrace.

Like the adult son in the video, my sister and I had occasions to feel impatient with my mom during the week of travel and visiting. And yet we also recognized that we were now doing for my mother as she had no doubt done for us countless times in our childhood. When we were little we didn’t always sleep well. During the trip my mother woke us up at 3:45 one morning, fully dressed and ready to head for home. We could not convince her otherwise and so we obliged and left the hotel in the middle of the night. When we were children mom worried for our safety, and she was often hesitant to let us venture out into the unknown. Now we worry for mom and have taken her car keys away so that she no longer has the independence she once cherished. Mom always kept the medicines away from our reach so that we wouldn’t accidentally ingest them. We now have staff from the assisted living administer her medications regularly since she often gets confused and runs the risk of an overdose or even “underdose” of needed prescriptions. Mom helped us to learn how to read and write while we were growing up. Now as a result of macular degeneration we often have to help her read large print books and write cards on her behalf so that she only has to sign them with her shaky writing.

Many people I know who are my age share similar stories with me about their own parents and even students can relate as they watch their grandparents health and wellness diminish each time they go home. Aging is a natural part of life’s journey and it can be a very challenging and stressful time just as raising children can also be challenging and stressful. My hope and prayer is that those of us fortunate enough to still have elders in our lives might strive to cultivate patience, kindness, and forgiveness as we navigate this last earthly season with our parents. If we were blessed to have caring and devoted parents, may we do our best to return the favor now and pay it forward.

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne

Grief and the College Student

Statistics tell us that approximately 30-40% of college students are experiencing grief while pursuing their education. Grief can affect a student’s GPA and can lead to depression and a myriad of social difficulties. College life is stereotypically a “happy time” in a person’s life. If the student is grieving, they may feel out of step or isolated in their feelings. Grief unaddressed can “sneak up” on the person and play out in confusing and challenging ways.

There is an organization I discovered online when I was researching college students and grief. The organization, AMF, translates to Actively Moving Forward. A college student, having lost his mother to cancer, found himself struggling with his loss in the midst of college life. Through his struggles he formed AMF. I would like to share with you their list of helpful tips. Read more ›

Posted in Kay