It is a tremendous privilege and honor to work among such thoughtful, creative and inspiring colleagues committed to a rapidly changing religious and spiritual landscape across a wide ranging spectrum of college and university campuses. Set against an extraordinarily challenging and corrosive national and global background, the lives of those in our campus communities are impacted in ways we have never seen or imagined. It is both breathtaking and bewildering. It is also a moment. A moment that calls for courageous leadership, moral clarity and meaningful engagement from all of us. Without a doubt, ACURA and the principles to which we are committed as a professional organization are essential now more than ever. To be sure, for me it is not only our principles, but the remarkable colleagues, the people who share this profession that make it possible to face both the complex and cherished moments in our work together.
At our most recent annual conference in Southern CA, I shared an excerpt from a piece that I keep close these days called We Were Made for These Times, written by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
” My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.
Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.
Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity. The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.”
Rarely a day passes for me at Stanford that I am not mindful of the many extraordinary colleagues, righteous, resilient and caring souls on the waters of our campuses across this country. A collective great ship. I, along with our tremendous Executive Board, remain grateful for you and eager to hear from you as we continue to think about ways in which we can support, engage and learn from one another.
The Rev. Dr. Joanne Sanders, ACURA President
Associate Dean for Religious Life