quotes from RBG

[As we mourn the loss and celebrate the life of a woman who committed herself to lasting and respectful change, here are a few quotes]:

“Women will have achieved true equality when men share with them the responsibility of bringing up the next generation.”

“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”

“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”

“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

a ritual of care

[From a current SSU student – Note: The poetry collection, of which “A Ritual of Care” is a part, is meant to be fluid; shifting shape, emphasis and words to fit the needs of the specific gathering in which it is read. It is meant to be shared with a trusted group as it offers space to fully witness the realities of our time.]

A Ritual of Care

Hello, friends and family
You are most welcome here
Thank you for sharing this hallowed space
Together

Today, we have the opportunity
To bear witness to one another
With all the courage that we possess
We will safeguard one another in care
You are safe here

In doing this
We honour the Creator, who connects us
We honour the child, from which we have grown
We honour our youth, those who speak earnestly
We honour our present selves, we, who are fully alive
We honour our elders, those who have walked this road before and know so much
We honour our ancestors, who we will become

As we bear honest and courageous witness to one another
Our compassion will overflow from our cup to each other’s
We will pass hope like mashed potatoes around a communal table
Our grief melting like butter
Saturated with our abundant tenderness.

Today, let our generosity extend to each other
Within this room and beyond
Let us lend our courage to see each one of us as beloved
We are one creation
Each of us, a whole being

And as we rest together, in the safety of each others spacious arms
We acknowledge our strengths
Our ability to care, deeply and without reserve
We honour our individual longings
And as we metabolize our collective sorrow
We honour each other as we step into compassionate action
May we take this opportunity to become
Tender Alchemist of our time.

  • Marissa Wiebe – June 6, 2020

the heart of every human

That truth has been inscribed into our hearts
and into the heart of every human being,
there to be read and reverenced,
thanks be to you, O God….

Open our senses to wisdom’s inner promptings
that we may give voice to what we hear in our soul
and be changed for the healing of the world,
that we may listen for truth in every living soul
and be changed for the well-being of the world.

-from Sounds of the Eternal: A Celtic Psalter (John Philip Newell). Click here for full prayer. 

confessions

[a poem by Rachael Barham]

confessions

I say it because I’m with friends
and a couple of glasses of wine and laughter
have loosened my heart
and my tongue:

“Sometimes when a friend asks for prayer
I think, I can’t.
What if there’s no point in praying?
What if there’s no God?”

The smiles and nods
tell me I am not alone.

“But other times
I find my heart rises
to God and to love
with no regard for doctrine or doubt.
Yes, I can pray.”

(I wonder.
Would I have confessed
the first, the moments of uncertainty,
without also confessing the second,
the moments of faith?)

“And then I message back “Praying” 
and feel victorious!”

The laughter lasts a while –
laughter of recognition and relief,
laughter full of unspoken stories,
of relationships with friends
and families and childhood churches
whose belief appears to be
single, unwavering,
that illusive benchmark I suspect
I may never again reach
(though in truth I never did;
I just pretended
–  to myself above all).

Beneath the laughter
there is also pain,
misunderstanding, distance.
The pain of leaving
and the pain of holding on.
The pain of the inner struggle
to find and walk one’s own road
with love and courage,
the new road, now road,
but one that connects
at some crossroads miles past
with the old, well-worn.
Yes, continuity and discontinuity, both.

I say it because I’m with friends
and I need the healing balm
of laughter and confession mixed,
for this truth not to be so serious and heavy,
weighed down by years of silence and taboo.

I say it because I need to hear out loud
that I am not one.
My belief is not single.
Uncertainty and faith
dwell side by side in me.
(Perhaps less disparate than they at first appear,
different ways of approaching the same mystery,
two sides of the same dark coin?)

I say it because I need to balance
the complex victory of “Praying”
with the equally complex victory of “I can’t.”

Most of all I say it
to lay down any claim or need
to be champion of the faith
– that burden is not for me to bear –
and to take up instead the only burden
(at once heavier and miraculously light)
that is truly mine:
the burden of being myself.

– Rachael Barham – (from her blog)

more than free speech

[In response to conversations regarding free speech on campus, a president of a small college offers a response]:

On campuses, however, we must strive for something more than free speech. Our mission requires that we seek what I refer to as constructive engagement. It is not enough for individuals to speak freely. We must also find myriad ways to put a range of views into conversation with one another. It is what we do in classrooms every day. It is what we do on debate teams. It is what happens across every campus, far more than critics appreciate. It is what happens in the lives of college students much more frequently than in the lives of most adults, in part because college campuses and social networks tend to be more diverse than “real world” neighborhoods and social clubs.

This emphasis on constructive engagement is why, at Union College, we have launched an initiative to create the conditions for hearing and learning from diverse perspectives. One key element is an explicit and stated goal of understanding. Another is that speakers must take unscreened, sincere questions from the audience, and they are expected to respond respectfully. And finally, speakers must have evidence and reasoned arguments to support their views, given that both form the foundation upon which knowledge and wisdom rest. This is not the place to bash those who think otherwise with literal or figurative personal attacks, to privilege heat and fury over light and insight.

With this approach, and especially in the small, collegial community that is our distinctive liberal arts college, we commit to exposing our community to a range of perspectives. Success is not measured by how different the speakers’ views are from those most prevalent on the campus, but rather by the number of people who understand, and perhaps even reconsider or change their views as a result of the experience, regardless of the direction of change. As an educational institution, that’s our goal in the classroom. We expect nothing less of the speech that occurs elsewhere on campus.

– David Harris (in Inside Higher Ed)