Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Resolution: Feel Taller

Every New Year’s Day we get to focus on the year to come and reflect on the year behind us. We get to think about things we have done, left undone, and make plans for the things we would like to do and maybe not do. It’s like a New Year’s absolution and resolution packed into one day. It’s cathartic and hopeful.
Of course, most people I know either don’t make a New Year’s resolution or they make superficial promises that usually come up empty. I have nothing against either route. I usually watch as others play because a promise to lose weight or read more books or go to the gym or whatever just hasn’t appealed to me. However, this year, the year of 2012, a year that packs so much promise, I made the decision to go big. I have made a resolution.
But this resolution is not just mine. It’s ours, because the only way this resolution comes true is if we make it together.
In a recent study by Michelle Duguid and Jack Concalo it was concluded that, “although a great deal of research has shown that more physically imposing individuals are more likely to acquire power, this work is the first to show that powerful people feel taller than they are.” In other words, if you have power, you feel taller. And so this year, my resolution is for Episcopal Campus Ministry at Wash U. to feel taller.
The rebuilding process that is happening here at The Rockwell House has been a process of learning how to stand tall again. Nothing bad happened here and there is certainly nothing hiding behind the doors. But after only a few years of inconsistent leadership and therefore membership, it was time to call it what it was: a restart.
A restart isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually a great opportunity to shape the way we do things. We have the chance to explore and change who we are with little or no resistance. We knew it would take patience, but if we could enjoy the process, success would surely follow. And by success I mean having the ability to recognize our impact in the world while feeding our souls and whetting our spiritual appetites.
How do we quantify this resolution? How do we make bench marks and achievable goals? How do we feel taller?
Well, the simple answer, if there is one, is to keep going and to never settle. Never become comfortable with what we’ve done or who we are doing. Always push the bar. And most importantly, we must do this because want to do it for our own growth and because it makes us happy and gives us purpose.
In a recent interview on the Diane Rehm Show, the newly consecrate bishop of Washington, Mariann Budde said, "We have become an institution focused on our own survival, and when an institution or faith community focuses on survival it loses its creativity. It loses its ability to risk..."
So in this year of 2012, may we stand tall in our creativity and in our risk as we claim our power in this world. Naturally, we’ll think we’re taller than we really are if we do a good job.

Monday, January 9, 2012

New Year, New Quarter

Today, UC Davis' Winter Quarter begins.  There's always a sense of excitement and newness as a quarter begins.  That's the beauty of the academic calendar, right?  Every few months, everything changes: new classes, new schedules, new expectations, new rhythm of life.  But this one holds some different wonderings for students: what will carry over from the way the last quarter ended (with pepper spray, tents, and media everywhere)?  Will tuition and fees skyrocket?  How much of that can they balance along with their studies?

The issues facing students in the UC system and at many other colleges are big ones.  And it's all wrapped up in the questions about the economy and individual's futures: should college education be affordable and accessible to all?  Is a degree necessary to finding a living-wage earning job?  Are any of those jobs even going to be available when they graduate? 

And yet, the students by and large are not losing hope.  They press on, finding ways to finance their educations, working more jobs, finishing school sooner.  Students' tenacity and resolve amaze me.  I don't know what this quarter, or this year, hold for this campus (and this campus ministry).  I know that we will be here to help discern God's will in the midst of much anxiety, and to be looking for places where the Spirit is active and thriving.  Campus Ministry will provide hospitality, a respite, and a sacred space to bring those longings and expectations.  I'm so grateful to be here doing this ministry at this time, in this place.