Holy MOLY!

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

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