How are we to be?

3 September 2021

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” (An interpretive translation of the Jewish Talmud by Rabbi Rami Shapiro)

Welcome (back) to Carleton and a new year! It is wonderful to be starting back in person (hopefully!), with so many new faces across the campus, including in the Chapel. We are very pleased to welcome Tauseef Akbar, our new Associate Chaplain for Muslim and Interfaith Life, and Chrissy Bensen, our new Chaplain’s Office Coordinator. And we’re excited to work with a great group of new and returning Chaplain’s Associates. This new academic year feels especially meaningful since we can gather in community for the first time in a long while.

But this is an emotionally and spiritually complicated year too. The nation and the world are reeling from the pandemic, natural disasters and climate chaos, war and violence, and racial injustice. Many of us have suffered deep personal losses and are grieving for almost two years spent differently than we had expected. We aren’t even quite sure how to greet people, let alone how we should be feeling or acting (happy, excited, grieving, angry—or all of those?).

It is hard to hold so many emotions at one time, yet we are called, as the translation of the Talmud indicates, to recognize the grief and the pain around us and to keep trying to make a difference right here and now. Making a difference can mean helping individuals or changing the systems that cause pain, injustice, or harm. And such work grows from love and allows love to grow.

“There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live.” (Bishop Michael Curry)

Join us in the Chapel this fall as we seek to discern how we are to be, live, and love in this new year,

Carolyn Fure-Slocum, College Chaplain