Holy MOLY!

Check Out the Chapel

If you have not been inside Snidow Chapel yet this fall, please go take a look. We did some work over the summer and the sanctuary looks really good. More importantly, the organ sounds really good!

The organ console traveled to Lawrence Kansas to celebrate its 50th birthday with being converted to digital. The original organ builder, Reuter, removed miles of tiny wire and replaced the innards with circuit boards. The organ now has its own thumb drive! The organ had shown some problems with reliability so it has new pistons, and all of the stops work every time. For the historians among us, the actual instrument (pipes, bellows, etc.) are still mechanical, but they work from a single fiber optic cable rather than a five inch bundle of wires. The bellows had the leather replaced, and I could list all sorts of other details that would only serve to show off my newer vocabulary.

The chancel itself (the raised place up the front marble steps) looks very different. The choir pews were removed so that the choir can now face the congregation. This also opens the space up for worshiping differently and having small services on the chancel. I cannot wait for the steppers to try out the new space now that they can dance where everyone can see them.

The acoustics are different now too. If you have ever been to a lecture held in the chapel, you have heard the reverberation that made it hard to understand the speaker. With the final pew cushions arriving in October, the chapel will now be a better venue for lectures and presentations as well (and a praise band is no longer ear shattering).

There is no requirement to go to chapel services any more, and some community members don’t go into the space in their entire tenure here, but our college seal bears its image because our founders believed that the dialogue between faith and reason was essential to higher education. So I encourage you to check out the space and, whatever your faith/non-faith tradition, to have a moment of silence there soon to appreciate its beauty and the gift that donors 50 years ago, and donors over the past two years, have shared with our community. Consider it a reminder that the pursuit of Knowledge, Truth and Beauty is found in our learning and in our spirits.

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

Parents and Family Weekend

When our three children were in college, Family Weekend was one of my favorite events. I loved meeting their professors and advisors and enjoyed getting to know their new friends.  Although it was not always easy to “let go” as our sons and daughter ventured off to the world of higher education, I was grateful to know they had discovered family in new ways and with new people. It was hard to hear them say “I’m looking forward to going home,” after a break, meaning they were going back to their new home at their respective universities, I was also relieved to discover they felt a deep sense of belonging. Their world had expanded to include a new community and new relationships. The friends my children came to know and love as young adults have truly become their sisters and brothers.

I have the privilege of watching these kinds of families develop at Lynchburg College every day. I am most aware of the bonds that happen with the Bonner Leaders since I work so closely with them. However, I see it happen in a variety of clubs and organizations, on athletic teams and in residence halls. Living up close and personal, perhaps even sharing the same room with another person for the first time, provides life-long lessons in communication, conflict resolution, and compromise. Such outside of the classroom experiences can be truly transforming, as strangers become friends and bonds can become as deep as those we experienced growing up in our own homes.

For those of us fortunate enough to be blessed with strong families at home as well as at school, we have a special obligation to look out for those who have not been so lucky. We have all known individuals who have been wounded by the very people they were supposed to trust while growing up. There are those among us who feel marginalized and left out here on campus for a variety of reasons. By virtue of our common humanity, these men and women are also our sisters and brothers, in need of and deserving connection and relationship. In the words of Jane Howard, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” We all need to feel like we belong.

As we observe another Parents and Family Weekend at Lynchburg College, let us take to heart the new sculpture on campus and practice LCVE – LC LOVE. The sense of family and community that many of us cherish and treasure is meant to be shared beyond our own circle. Find someone with no guests this weekend and include them in one of your own family meals or gatherings. Notice the student who seems to eat alone every meal and invite them to join your group in the dining hall.  Practice bystander intervention by noticing when someone may be in trouble and act on their behalf.  Make an effort to learn the names of some of the people who cook your meals, clean your hall, take care of the dell, and any of countless other tasks that help enhance your life at Lynchburg College. Speak to them by name and thank them for helping to provide you a home away from home and a family to call your own here.

As Sister Sledge might sing: “We are family . . . I got all my sisters with me. We are family . . . Get up ev’rybody and sing. We are family . . . I got all my brothers with me. We are family.”

Peace, Anne

Posted in Anne

LC LOVE, Unity, and Renewal

The LC LOVE sign was erected today as I write this article to remember the collapse of the twin towers and the crashing of 4 airplanes. We remember 9/11 and we will never forget the horror we saw. In the end, however, LOVE trumps all.

This fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 can be a time of renewal for us. Fifteen years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism. As we face today’s challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges. Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope and love for a world renewed.

Father James Martin, SJ, a Jesuit priest, was on the front line of aid rendered that fateful day. He writes:

And here was God offering us a parable today. As I looked around at the rescue workers, I thought, what is God like? God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That’s how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha… So for me, the experience of September 11, 2001, was not simply one of tragedy but also of resurrection. For me it embodied the Christian mystery of the cross: the place of unimaginable tragedy can also be the place of new life that comes in unexpected ways.”

The lesson we still gain from the tragedy of 9/11 is that from darkness comes light, from pain comes comfort and from hatred comes love. In remembering the fateful events of September 11, 2001, may we resolve to put aside our differences and join together in the task of renewing our nation and world.

Let us make our own the prayer of Pope Benedict XVI, when he visited Ground Zero in New York in 2008:

O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us; people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain….

God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all. Amen.

Posted in Kaky

Reflection on Saintliness

From second through sixth grade, I attended a small Catholic school in Wyoming. We were fortunate to have three Franciscan nuns who taught all six grades. At least once a week the parish priest would come by the classrooms, reminding us to “pray and obey” and to strive to be saints. I have failed miserably on all three counts throughout my life.

As an adult I understand my calling much differently. Prayer is often a struggle, blind obedience is simply wrong, and saintliness has been greatly misunderstood. I’ve been thinking about this whole saint thing quite a bit lately in anticipation of the canonization of Mother Teresa, which is to occur this Sunday. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to canonize in the Roman Catholic Church is “to officially give a dead person a special status as someone very holy: to declare (someone) to be a saint.”

Most of us can picture Mother Teresa as a small bent-over woman, wearing her traditional white and blue trimmed religious habit, ministering to the poorest of the poor, primarily in India. She had a special love and devotion for those considered untouchable, including lepers and the terminally ill left to die in the streets. She would often tell the story of a particular man who was found in a gutter, half eaten by worms. When the nuns brought the man to their convent, he said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but am going to die as an angel: loved and cared for.”

I also remember when Mother Teresa visited the U.S. after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. According to one account: “She was asked to come to New York to be presented with $100, 000 for her work by a Catholic organization. The occasion was a fancy formal dinner where filet mignon would be served. Mother Teresa accepted the check. Next she scolded the crowed for their extravagance, telling them that before she came it took her three hours to scrape the maggots from a dying man’s body. Then she left without eating. A few days later, she received another $100,000 donation, equal to the cost of the banquet.”

My husband even had the opportunity to meet Mother Teresa in 1976 when he volunteered at a Catholic Worker house in Davenport, Iowa. The community offered simple hospitality to the poor and homeless, and Mother Teresa chose to pray with a small group in their living room when she was visiting the area.

But perhaps the most notable aspect of the life of Mother Teresa for me is that throughout all the years of her amazing and grace-filled ministry, she struggled a great deal in her spiritual life. After her death, a book was released filled with letters that she wrote to her pastoral advisors over the years. Although I have not read Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, I understand that it contains many accounts of Mother Teresa’s deep despair and darkness in her prayer and personal life. Her saintliness did not come without cost nor by “cheap grace” but by living with much inner turmoil and tribulation. I tend to believe that she was able to reach out in such loving empathy to the suffering around her because she identified so personally with the suffering she felt within herself much of the time.

As some of us celebrate the official “saintliness” of Mother Teresa on Sunday, may we also reflect on our own calling to serve those in need. May we reach out in service, even when our prayer life feels empty and God may seem very far away. May we find encouragement in our efforts, recalling the words of Mother Teresa herself: “God does not require that we be successful only that we be faithful.”

Posted in Anne

Chaplain’s Corner: The Spiritual Part of Our Mission

This is an excerpt from the Lynchburg College Mission Statement.

The mission of Lynchburg College is to develop students with strong character and balanced perspectives and to prepare them for engagement in a global society and for effective leadership in the civic, professional, and spiritual dimensions of life.”

The Mission Statement is a good place to review as we start classes and resume our academic routine. The staff at the Spiritual Life Center takes the challenge to prepare our community for spiritual living very seriously, and we hope that you will be a part of sharing your spirituality on campus.

First, Spirituality on campus is very diverse. We have Agnostics and Atheists, Protestants and Catholics, Jewish and Hindi, Muslim and Mormons, Orthodox and SBNRs (Spiritual but not Religious) all gathered around the Dell. We have those who meditate and those who rock praise bands, those who sit in silence and those who do Bible Study. There are over a dozen organized groups on campus and we can help you start another group too.

So, how will you know what the resources are on campus? The Spiritual Life Fair, of course. Next Tuesday, August 30th the Spiritual Life Center sponsors a cookout and spiritual activities on the Dell. A special thank you to the Dining Hall folks for making it possible. We will have several opportunities for reflection, coloring, making your own Zen garden for your room or a Mezuzah for your door. The Labyrinth will be available to walk as will directions to the Acorn Labyrinth off one of the wooded trails near Wake and College Lake. You can sign up for Bible Study groups and meet Spiritual Life Staff and Student Leaders, and we will help you find a local place of worship and transportation. The Prayer Wall will be getting a bit of a make-over before it returns to Drysdale, and we have T-Shirts for the first 400 students who swipe in with Check I’m Here! Bring your college ID!

Follow Us At #LCSpiritualLife and look for more information on the website, http://www.lynchburg.edu/spiritual-life

Blessings, Stephanie

Posted in Stephanie

Lessons from the Olympics

Although I have not been completely riveted to the television this week watching the Olympics, I have enjoyed watching several events and human interest stories. I’ve never played a competitive sport in my life, so I can’t begin to relate to the athletes in Rio, but I do feel that I’ve learned a great deal even as a spectator.

I’ve noticed that the happiest athletes are able to celebrate the victories of their competitors as well as their teammates. Such affirmation and admiration was especially evident after Tuesday evening’s performance by US gymnast Simone Biles. “It was so incredible, I don’t believe it,” said German gymnast Tabea Alt. “She is a hero for us.” “She’s amazing, amazing,” said Netherlands gymnast Celine van Gerner, “A really great legend.” “She does everything right, everything perfect,” said Russian gymnast Angelina Melinkova. “I like her so much.”

Instead of sulking or feeling jealous or even angry at the untouchable performance of their arch rival, these athletes chose to celebrate Biles’ talent, skill, and awesome performance. If gold medals were given for positivity and being a good sport, I would honor these other athletes for their integrity and spirit. They are winners too in my book. These competitors know how to live out the adage coined by Theodore Roosevelt: Comparison is the thief of joy.

Roosevelt’s wisdom has challenged me on more than one occasion. Throughout my life I have often struggled with comparing myself to others and coming up short. I’m embarrassed and even a little ashamed to admit how often I have let envy and jealousy creep in as I measure myself according to others. Sometimes my comparisons revolve around physical attributes, worldly possessions, academic prowess, professional accomplishments, etc. Such judgments create lose-lose scenarios. The other misses out on my appreciation, admiration, and respect. And I miss out on the joy that comes from sharing in another’s good fortune. Moreover, in comparing myself negatively to others, I fail to be grateful for the many gifts and blessings that I myself enjoy.

When I catch myself going down the negative path of comparisons and then call to mind Roosevelt’s words, I’m able to turn my attitude around. In those moments I can make the decision to celebrate others’ accomplishments and circumstances and also recognize that I have my own unique contributions and attributes worthy of celebration. I now enjoy a win-win scenario. I truly do want to live a life of elation, recalling the words of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin that joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.

As we prepare ourselves for the coming academic year, may we resolve to keep comparisons at bay and focus instead on finding ways to celebrate the giftedness of all people and to count our own blessings along the way. Perhaps the Gospel of John says it best: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” Can I hear an Amen?!

Posted in Anne

What is Your Why?

WhyPicture

What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?

I spent a week in June at youth camp. Each evening the camp pastor closed the time of worship by asking, “What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?” The question has been haunting me for weeks.

In his book Start With Why business leader Simon Sinek introduces his readers to The Golden Circle. Fashioned much like an archery target, the center ring has the word why in it. The next ring has the word how, and the outer ring has the word what. Sinek suggests most employees in a company know what product the company produces. A fewer number know how products are produced. Even fewer know why. Based on his research, Sinek concludes the most successful companies have employees who know not only what they make and how; they know why.

Sinek’s conclusion has application outside the business world. If we are honest, few of us stop long enough to discover our why. Many of us become stuck in what we do or in how we do it. The mundane details and complex demands of the day-to-day lull us into autopilot, rendering us incapable of discovering our why.

But here is the thing: in order to thrive we have to discover our why. We have to know our purpose. Knowing our why empowers us when our what and how get hard. Knowing our why helps us not lose heart as we navigate academic demands, analyze research, reconfigure staff, design strategic plans, imagine institutional advancement, struggle through the demands of publishing or even wrestle with the nuances of first year resident student life.

What is your why? I am not asking what you do or even how you do it. I am not even asking how you prepared to do what you do or what academic degrees or experience you have. I am asking what is your why?

Like the youth at my church, I now wear a bracelet on the wrist of my right hand. This Peruvian fair trade bracelet, given to me at camp, reminds me of the question the camp pastor asked: What do I plan to do with this one wild and precious life? The question no longer haunts me, but I leave the bracelet on as a visual reminder of my plan.

What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?…or in Sinek’s words: What is your why?

Posted in Katrina

Life Is Better at the Beach

I’m on my way home from three glorious days at Wrightsville Beach, NC. While I am sun-soaked, relaxed and recharged, there is still an empty hole in my soul. In the midst of my vacation, many innocent people suffered a tragic and senseless death.

As I sat on the beach, I prayed for the victims, their families, our nation and our world. I continually asked myself, “What is wrong with our world, with the people in it filled with such hate and anger?” I did not and still don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that as I sat facing the ocean, I felt a sense of calm. Weird as it may seem, the vastness and power of the ocean helped me feel God’s presence in midst of the pain. I also began to truly look at all the people around me. By comparison with the awesome sea, we are mere specks much like the sand beneath my feet. But in those grains of sand is a diversity and uniqueness so beautiful. I glanced up and down the beach and saw an amazing slice of humanity. People of all color, ethnicity, age, and sex were gathered as families, as couples, as friends, and as strangers hanging out in harmony. Each person was enjoying him or herself without judgment, fear, or confrontation.

It seems to me that people convene at the beach to relax, to be with loved ones, and to possibly enjoy God’s beautiful creation. Somehow the beach gives us this gift to let down our guard and just be our true authentic selves. There is an understood respect for the ocean. The ocean belongs to no one but to all of us at the same time. We can’t understand or know all about her but respect her because God created her with all her many treasures that lie within. Likewise, God created all of us. Why can’t we respect each other? We don’t know the stories of each person we meet. Perhaps if we took the time to engage with one another as we do with the ocean, maybe we could feel and see each person as a gift to us like the ocean. This may seem to be a very simplistic analogy, but that’s how my brain and heart work sometimes. Simple yet clear to me.

I believe that if we could live each day as if we were at the beach or on vacation, life would be better. I continue to pray for all victims of prejudice or lack of understanding. May God help us to see more clearly the beauty in our world, both in the sea and the grains of sand.

Kaky Bowden

Posted in Kaky

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