we listen in every way that we know how

[a third excerpt from SSU Field Notes]

Leland: What do you think this thread of discernment has meant for the University?

Lorna: Discernment has been a high value. It’s the grid by which we decide what should happen here, and how it should happen. We listen together. We might argue a lot in the process or have heated discussions or disagreements, but the bottom line is that we do the best we can to listen for how God is inviting us forward…. We’re a Christian university, and it would be easy enough to be anything just in name. But to me, being Christian means following Christ, and we can only follow Christ if we’re listening to what he says.

Leland: And what does that look like for you?

Lorna: I guess it means that when there are hard decisions to be made, it’s not one person making them. It’s the community identifying what the next steps seem to be or what the crisis area is. And we listen in every way that we know how to listen before we make a decision.

– Lorna Jones, financial officer and spiritual director at SSU, in an interview with alumnus, Leland Maerz – from SSU Field Notes

[If you’re interested in one of the few remaining “limited edition” copies of SSU Field Notes (printed by Gaspereau Press) you can order one by sending an email to Lorna Jones]

SSU Field Notes cover

listening to silence, listening to students

[This afternoon is the book launch of SSU Field Notes: A Collected Memoir on Canada’s Smallest University. This quote is from an interview with Peter Fitch on what has kept SSU alive]:

…[T]here were two things that have changed us: one is this determination that we could be led intuitively or spiritually. The other thing is that I, maybe more than anybody else, have a complete conviction that each new generation of students has a voice that’s been changing this place….

I think that’s what has changed us. Internally, listening to silence. And listening to students. That’s why this place isn’t stagnant…. The people are changing, the ideas are changing, and to me, it feels like a situation of perpetual growth. I hope that’s true.

– Peter Fitch, from SSU Field Notes (2015)

field

an attentive silence to hear the poor and weak

In those who have suffered too many blows, in slaves for example, that place in the heart from which the infliction of evil evokes a cry of surprise may seem to be dead. But it is never quite dead; it is simply unable to cry out any more….

…those who most often have occasion to feel that evil is being done to them are those who are least trained in the art of speech….

Apart from the intelligence, the only human faculty which has an interest in public freedom of expression is that point in the heart which cries out against evil. But as it cannot express itself, freedom is of little use to it. What is first needed is a system of public education capable of providing it, so far as possible, with means of expression; and next, a regime in which the public freedom of expression is characterized not so much by freedom as by an attentive silence in which this faint and inept cry can make itself heard; and finally, institutions are needed of a sort which will, so far as possible, put power into the hands of [people] who are able and anxious to hear and understand it.

– Simone Weil