“Remain true to yourself, but move ever upward toward greater consciousness and greater love! At the summit you will find yourselves united with all those who, from every direction, have made the same ascent. For everything that rises must converge.” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
On the first day of school I asked students and faculty to answer three questions: What do you hope to be able to do or do better in June? What do you use to help you persevere? What would you say to your graduating self (or retiring self for faculty)? I continue to find the exercise and answers profound. Immediately below is a word cloud from the first question:
This represents the second question:
And, this is a distillation of the third question:
To live in community is to gather and lift up our struggles, our hopes, dreams, resources, talents. And, so, we share and are united in our inability to circumvent challenges. We are united in our resolve to persevere through them. And we are united in hopeful aspiration.
In reading the notes in response to the third question, it was remarkable to me how kind we are to our future selves. My prayer is that we be kind to our present selves in a space that lets us be true to ourselves while still allowing for the discomfort of progress, learning, and growing. This is the beautiful thing about being tethered to 277 years of tradition, because that tradition requires us to look forward, to extirpate complacency and move ever upward toward greater love.