Happy New Year!

Well, today is the first Friday of the fall semester, and boy what a week it’s been!  On my way in to Northern on Main today, I stopped and talked to someone on the sidewalk, who asked me how the first week had gone.  Oddly enough, I said, the first week has been less stressful than the week before the semester began!  “Opening Weekend,” as it is called (even though the activities stretched from Wednesday to Sunday), is a long one, with lots of activities to keep the incoming students busy (read: not homesick…) and the returning students active as leaders (read: out of trouble…) 
So, being back in the routine of being in the office, doing one-to-one meetings at NOM, and preparing for/leading chapel has been a respite for me.  Plus, the students are back!  And that brings me great joy, since they bring such energy and enthusiasm to Religious Life, and the campus in general. 

The beginning of the fall semester brings with it a great host of possibilities.  There are so many “What if” moments, when we begin to wonder how we can grow, change, and learn in this new year.  Everyone’s excited to see everyone else, and the year stretches out before us like a blank book, just waiting to be written in.

It’s at times like this that I am grateful for the opportunity to be in campus ministry.  It’s such a joy to see the rebirth and renewal that happens every year.  As a Christian, I’m reminded of the rebirth and renewal that come to us in Jesus, who calls us all to be born anew.  Just as the changing seasons remind us of the cycle of birth, death, and resurrection, so the new school year reminds us of the call to eternal life in Christ. 

I pray that all my ONU friends and family will have a great year this year, and that every day will be a reminder to us all of the promise of eternal life.  May this year bring with it a new birth into the never-ending possibilities presented by God’s grace in our lives.

 

Blessings and Happy New Year,

David

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Photos and Haiku from Gethsemani

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful, refreshing, life-changing weekend at the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky.  My heart is still full from all the blessings I received from the monks that weekend.  There will be many reflections on this first visit, but the following is a beginning.  I know that I will return to that sacred place, and perhaps only then will I be able to begin to understand for myself what God has done through the Trappists of Gethsemani.

–David

Image(The sign marking the front entrance to the Abbey grounds)

you did not know me–
and yet, you welcomed me in
as one of y our own.

i am so grateful
to the God to whom we pray
for your gifts to me

Image

(Retreat House dining room)

you have shared so much,
have expected so little.
how can i give thanks?

i will pray for you–
and with you, now that i know
your patterns of prayer

Image

(Monks at prayer)

i will also give
as generously as you–
now that i have learned

Image

(Dom Frederic’s Lake)

silence is a gift
it tunes the ears to listen–
to hear Creation

Image

(Butterfly)

Image

(Rose of Sharon)

senses come to life
so many butterflies here–
so many colors.

then, you gave me life

Image

(One view of the Monks’ Graveyard)

in this place–
“God is our refuge and strength.”
in all places.

Image

(The grave marker of Fr. Louis–known to the outside world at Thomas Merton)

Father Louis–
Gethsemani has shown me
how to be quiet.

torn between two worlds,
father louis sought silence
and silence sought him

Bobby, Martin, Louis–1968, a year of tragedy

two lost to mad men
one, to the modern age–
a monk, out of time

Image

(The graves of Thomas Merton and James Fox–Fox was often portrayed in Merton’s writings as his great adversary in many matters–intellectual and spiritual)

two brothers in life,
so often adversaries–
resting side by side

Image

(Another view of the Monks’ Graveyard–they all face East–in this case, toward Mother Mary)

dead monks, row on row
silently waiting for God,
while their brothers pray

Image

(A view of the Church bell tower)

if you can listen,
you may hear the rope moving
before the bell chimes

the bells continue
long after they have been rung–
vibrating in praise

Image

(A quiet place to sit)

as the late noon sun,
Jesus comes, casting shadows
that cover the earth

once, i knew so much–
now, i know very little.
God has shown me this.

Summer Reflections

For the two or three who read this blog, I apologize for my lack of faithfulness in writing this summer.  I promise, I’ll get back on it as the school year returns!

This summer has been very different from last summer, mostly because I know more about what I’m doing now than I did then.  It’s also been a summer of reflecting on what has happened in the last 365 days, a year that has changed so much in my life.

For one thing, I am absolutely convinced that I am living in the center of God’s will for me right now.  I know that chaplaincy, and particularly here at ONU, is where I should be.  It’s a feeling that I’ve felt before, when I’ve been able to clear away the clutter from my life and listen carefully to God’s call, but I’ve felt it much more clearly in the last year. 

Another reflection that has come to me this summer is that I am so grateful for quiet times–like the long days on campus when the students are all at home and at large in the world–but I really do long for times when I have people around me, students poking their heads in my office, and constant coffee meetings and one to ones.  Those who know me well will be surprised by this, since I’m such an introvert, but what I’ve described above fits well with my introverted nature.  As long as my interactions are spaced out throughout the day, and involve either small groups or one to one interactions, I’m fine–and I actually  miss the hum of the campus when students aren’t here.

So, I’m really looking forward to the students returning to campus.  I’ve missed them, and while it’s been good to reflect and get ready, now I’m ready and I want to get going.  That’s why I’m looking forward to this weekend, when I get to go on retreat with my student staff.  It will be a time of learning, planning, and most of all–fun.  And I know that it’s just the beginning of what this year will have in store for me, for our campus ministry, and for our campus. 

Peace,

David