Those who know me well, know that I love music of all kinds. This week as I was driving, I heard a beautiful piece on the radio: “Im Herbst” “In Autumn”, Concert-Overture Op. 11 by Edvard Grieg. I invite you to listen and to reflect with me.
I often pray with music and I was so moved to reflect on autumn after listening to this. Autumn is a time when the earth is curling up for the long winter in anticipation of being reborn in the spring. With the dying of many leaves and grasses on the vine also comes hope, and a remembrance for what was.
In this autumn, we come to the anniversary of events in our city, in Ferguson, on our campus. Just like the leaves and grasses slow down but spring back to life, so these memories of the challenging times in our city and campus ebb and flow. Even through the dead of winter, we can never forget the life within the earth. We also cannot forget the issues and challenges we have personally been presented with throughout the last year, and we are called in a special way to continue to honor those issues and challenges. We are called to honor those images which are both fragile and beautiful, those images which provide us with both a harvest of reflection and hope for the future, and those images which call us in a greater way to not only honor and care for the earth but for all creation, including every living being.
As we move into this period of dormancy, we ourselves cannot lie dormant about the challenges and issues which call us to our faith that serves justice. Perhaps now, in this period of quiet and fragility, it is time to revisit some of the important questions we are called to ask ourselves. These questions were presented to the campus last autumn from the Department of Campus Ministry. I invite you to call them to mind again this autumn:
· Do I condone prejudice by my participation or by my inaction, particularly when speaking out seems like a greater inconvenience than silence?
· Do I make the connection between faith and action by critiquing structures and attitudes that diminish others?
· Do I make an effort to get to know people who are different from me in appearance, beliefs, and lifestyle?
· Do we listen to members of vulnerable communities, both on and off campus, who can help us to see our own blind spots about how our unchallenged assumptions perpetuate hostility?
As always, please remember that there are resources on campus that will engage in dialogue with you around these challenging questions. My hope and prayer for you is to consider these questions in light of your faith tradition, and in light of the mission which you are a part of here at SLU. Autumn is a good symbolic reminder that we need to take some time to reflect on our own greater purpose.
Sue Chawszczewski, Ph.D.
Director of Campus Ministry