A blessing perspective
Today’s reflection comes from Reinhold Neibuhr (1892–1971) public theologian and Professor at Union Theological Seminar for more than 30 years. Among many other works he is the author of the Serenity Prayer, now popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and useful at any and every moment of life.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
Here is another Neibuhr quote that I want to share:
“Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in one lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by Love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore, we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.”
A friend sent me this quote last week. It moves me, and offers a moment to reflect on the process of my life, right now. This friend anticipated rightly that much of my internal processing focuses on what I have accomplished and what I have not, at Elon, and in my career as a chaplain for 40 years. It resonates as we attempt to understand this moment in time, our work, our institution, the decisions before us, and the country we live in and care for. I am cheered and uplifted to be reminded that love is and will be our saving, and that love is often shown to us, and to ourselves, in the form of forgiveness.
I don't already know how you will read and hear these words. I hope they will help you see your life and work in a new perspective. As you manage the stresses of this day and this week, I offer you these words as blessing. Remember that we serve together and depend on each other. We see flaws, fractures, often in others more than we see them ourselves. The whole picture is not visible from where we are, and it is love and forgiveness that will, ultimately, reveal what we have created, and who we have become. That is what will hold us up and together, these four: hope, faith, love, and forgiveness.
Let it be, then, for us, for our university, for our leaders, and for our hearts.
The Rev. Dr. Jan Fuller is Chaplain at Elon and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org