Posts Tagged ‘This I Believe’

‘This I Believe’ Meditations

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

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John 17:6-19

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Robin Masi – Ed.D – Educational Leadership and Policy Studies; SED’18 

I believe in the power of art to transcend boundaries that words cannot provide.

I believe that living the life of an artist and teaching art students one needs to learn from those that have gone before us.

This has brought me to think about my own role model, Sister Marie deSales Dinneen and one of her role models while she attended Boston University over 50 years ago. She encouraged me to attend B.U. for my doctorate in education – her beloved alma mater.

Sr. Marie always knew she wanted to be a nun. She was a devoted sister, teacher to the “youngsters” at Regis as she called them, and a rabid Boston sports fan.

Sr. first attended Harvard University on a full scholarship. She studied the classics which as she put it “was like crucifying myself” so she transferred to Boston University and for the next 10 years she received her PhD in art history and then another bachelors and masters from the College of Fine Arts. She never exhibited her work but wanted to be the best teacher for her students. Her own art work was phenomenal and included joyous themes of complex compositions of parades, holidays, and other multi-group outings.

Phillip Guston is one of the most well-known abstract expressionist artists whose oversized canvases of Klansmen, fat men in cigars, and other aggressive imagery was painted in violent and expressive tones of black, gray and red. His work dealt head-on with social and political issues and he has exhibited internationally for decades. I couldn’t imagine two more different people or artists. Phillip was one of Sr. Marie’s professors here at BU.

Sister once told me “My first introduction to Phillip was when I was sitting in class, in layperson’s clothing as this was after Vatican II, and he looked at me and said,

‘And I see we have Marie Dinneen from Weston. Are you one of those ladies who are here because your husband says you are a good painter?

“Not quite,” Sr. Marie recounted. “I’m a teacher at Regis College and I’m here like everybody else in that I want to learn about art.”

She recalled another conversation.

“I was early for class one day and my work was on the board ready for a critique. It was a jumble of gesture drawings of Archbishop Cushing with kids making their confirmation.”

Phillip asked ‘is that yours, Marie? I think I see a cardinal – he’s holding his hand out to the great unwashed.”

“Yes,’ she said – ‘he has a special way of doing it’ and I flung my hand out – and he said humorously, ‘that’s it, Marie, we’re the great unwashed!” They had a good laugh together and he became one of the best critiquers of her work.

“I grew to like him very much,” she said.
When she learned of her acceptance to the MFA program at CFA another professor said,

‘Marie, you’d be interested to know that the one who went to bat for you the most to get into the MFA program was Phillip.”

I believe Sr. Marie found her place here at B.U., and so did I. Just like she said I would.

I believe that when you follow those who have come before you, you always end up in the right place.

Anne Marie Kelley – MS -Project Management; MET’18

At 59 I may not be the oldest graduate this year, but I most certainly am not the youngest. However, I believe that if you are open to changing, to enriching your life through learning, you can do anything.

I believe in the power of a smile; it’s a non-verbal sign of encouragement, a universal sign of welcome, a way to say I see you and you are not alone.

I believe in the power of laughter; it can ease tense moments, make us realize that you don’t have to take everything in life so seriously.

I believe in celebrating small successes. Many of our goals in life, like pursuing a degree, will take time to achieve. Celebrating the small successes helps recharge our batteries so we can continue pursuing our goals.

I believe in faith, in yourself, in your friends and family and in God. Faith gives you the courage and strength to keep moving forward, to overcome obstacles. Faith gives you hope.

I believe it’s okay to not be perfect, even sometimes to fail; it builds coping skills and the perseverance you need to keep moving forward.

I believe in the power of grit, of holding on, of hanging in there even when times are difficult, as this prepares you for whatever happens in your life, and it is a necessary ingredient for success in whatever endeavor you undertake.

I believe in the power of asking for help and offering to help. We all have different skills and talents and sharing these talents will help us make the world a better place.

I believe in the power of embracing diversity. By learning about others you learn more about yourself. You come to realize that we have more in common than in our differences.

This commencement is a double blessing for me as my son is also graduating and earning his undergraduate degree. I know that parents of all graduates – whether from the US or from another country, no matter their race, religion or socio- economic status, want the same as I want for my son; an opportunity to have a good life, to be productive, to define and achieve their own success and happiness, to know that they are loved, and to be able to love themselves and others.

I believe it does ‘take a village’ to raise a child. It’s our job to help the next generation; to ensure that we leave this world in the hands of those capable to make the world a better place.

And, I do believe even an old dog can learn new tricks, if they are willing and if they have the love and support of family and friends. After all none of us travels this journey of life alone, we need each other to become the best version of ourselves.

Evan Armacost -BA/MA – Classical Studies; CAS/GRS’18

“Take, Lord, receive, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will.” So begins Saint Ignatius of Loyola’s Suscipe prayer that changed my life a little more

than one year ago. My faith journey at Boston University began with a certain hesitation; styles of worship and community were very different from my home parish in Evanston, IL, compounding on the homesick anxieties of going to college halfway across the country. For too long my Catholicism felt like a crystal cup I had inherited from my family and parish community: something that I was obligated to protect but that was not entirely mine. I turned instead to academics for consolation and validation, filling my schedule and my identity with studies and professional aspirations while growing increasingly empty.

As my spirit and selfhood reached a chilling nadir I embarked on my long-awaited semester abroad in Rome which would become the beginning of a pilgrimage that continues to this day. There I felt drawn to pray, to journal, to re-evaluate my life and its meaning in new ways. One word kept tugging at my heart: surrender. Such a prospect terrified me. I had spent a year and a half deeply curved in on myself in a relentless quest to achieve some ever-distant “success.” What would it mean to let go?

My wrestling inclinations came to a head during an Art History field trip to the Chiesa della Gesù, mother church of the Jesuits. From the moment I entered the church I came to the realization that for years I had been chasing my pride and ambitions ahead of God’s wishes for me. I resolved to turn my life back toward God and outside of myself, in whatever way the Lord would invite me. Be warned: “Ask and you shall receive!” Kneeling before the tomb of Saint Ignatius on the church’s left side I found an English prayer card with the text of the Suscipe.

“Whatever I have or possess You have given to me; to You I return it and hand it over to be governed by Your will.”

As I read words that promised a radical gift of self beyond my boldest imaginings I was filled with the Holy Spirit. I had never understood that this phrase, so often found in Scripture, was more than metaphor: it was an all-encompassing sensation. I became empowered and encouraged by a love I had nearly forgotten. It was then that I knew that, even if I gave God everything, I would lack nothing.

From that day to the present I have endeavored to share the love that I experienced in Rome. I make eye contact, I smile, I listen – really listen. Academics instead of an end themselves are now a means to that greatest End, God, and bring me great joy. The BU Catholic Center, always a space where I felt welcome, has become a second home. By the wisdom of the Holy Spirit I have decided to enter the Jesuits after my time at Boston University comes to an end. I do not know all that my future holds, but I have learned to trust those final words of Ignatius’ prayer:

“May you give to me only Your love and grace and I will be rich enough, nor will I ask for anything more.”

Nichholas Rodriguez – BS – Computer Engineering; ENG’18 

In my four years, I am not sure if I could reduce what I believe to a set of theological statements or ideas. I think if someone were to ask me, “what do you believe?,” I would maybe point them to the set of creedal statements that the Reverend Dean Hill mentioned months ago in a sermon titled A Word in the Wilderness. There, among other statements, he said:

“God is love…[and]
Life is a sacred journey to freedom.”

I would also maybe point to Mike McHargue’s Axioms about Faith, where he states:

“Faith is AT LEAST a way to contextualize the human need for spirituality and find meaning in the face of mortality…, [and]

God is AT LEAST the natural forces that created and sustain the Universe as experienced via a psychosocial model in human brains that naturally emerges from innate biases.”

While my theology has changed over these last four years, I would say the real change in what I believe is not exactly the base narratives of my own personal creeds, but rather my attitudes about them.

For our personal creeds deal with what it means to be.

In these last four years, I oftentimes found myself trying to find the courage to be in the midst of the many tensions that exist within our modern, globalized societies and within my own story as I wrestled with my own humanity.

In my four years here, I wrestled with doubt and the seemingly endless conflicts between my scientific intuition and my living, breathing faith.

I wrestled with the dark nights in my soul, I wrestled with failures and loss, and I wrestled with the implications of my own smallness and our Pale Blue Dot’s fragileness in a large, cold universe, and with the death of my God felt at the loss of my Freshman year’s neatly wrapped up faith. But, in the death of my God, I felt for a moment a connectedness between everything and the energy within myself keeping me alive. I felt, for a moment, existence itself.

I wrestled with what it meant to hold convictions and identities in a pluralistic world. In my four years here, I figured out really quickly that life does not make perfect sense, and that while there are wrongs and there are injustices in our world that we need to resist, I also learned that humanity’s distinct and diverse set of religious, spiritual and cultural identities are all beautiful – and that unity is not uniformity.

In my wrestling, I often felt connected to something greater. In the many conversations I had with colleagues surrounding justice, meaning, and the future of our world, there were times when I felt morealive. I felt the energy within me beating and a connection within myself to the millennia of traditions and ideas that are constantly in conversation with me. For moments, I felt the words of prophets and teachers, of the New Being and of Spirit, working through me. A few times, I felt for moments that these stories, my culture, my faith, and these conversations truly matter.

So, in my experiences I learned to be thankful, to listen, to empathize, and to engage.

We exist for the time we do, and in every moment, we have the opportunity to engage. We have the opportunity to engage with ourselves, with what we care about, with our world, with those around us, and with the Ground of Being from which we exist.

And, it is within wrestling with this holy tension and our own humanities, it is within our engaging with those of whom we may be unfamiliar, and it is within our finding the common ground(s) binding us, where we may see the face of God.

Marritt Nowak – BA – International Relations; CAS/Pardee’ 18

I believe in change. Four years ago I made a decision. After fourteen years of faith-based education at my Catholic school in St. Louis, I was ready for a change. I went from a class just short of one hundred girls to my undergraduate year at BU, with nearly four thousand students from all over the world. Different. Boston University, with its promise of diversity, urban environment and New England weather promised to be the exact opposite of what I had grown accustomed to. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Of course, what we think when we first arrive as undergraduates and what we know when we leave also tend to be completely different things. Just a few weeks in to freshman year, I was invited to hear the Marsh Chapel Choir perform one of their exquisite Bach cantatas. I had always loved classical music, and a new friend would be singing, it sounded like a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. The moment I entered this space I felt overwhelmed with welcoming smiles, friendly handshakes and of course the thoughtful preaching and beautiful music. I was home.

My visits increased in frequency, cantata after cantata, fellowship events with the global ministry department, and holy week services bringing me further and further into this community, something I had not anticipated as I tried to break out of what I thought was faith boxing me in. But that wasn’t the case at all, faith was the very thing opening doors to the diversity and new experiences I craved when I first began my journey. Before I knew it I was back in religion classes, eventually choosing to minor in the subject and visiting the chapel whenever I was free for interfaith fellowship events. I knew I needed to bring the welcoming spirit and positive energy I encountered in this space to more communities. This semester, I have welcomed refugees to a new country, using the warmth and earnest kindness I learned from Marsh Chapel. I had the privilege of assisting new arrivals in obtaining vital social services. It was waiting in lines or on hold, advocating for the people who had next to no one in their corner, that I learned to believe in welcome.

I arrived here unsure of what faith even means, completely out of touch with the things that I believe. The picture is not yet crystal clear, and I assume parts of it will shift and change forms throughout my life, but the pieces have begun to come together. I believe that difference is a good thing, that it makes us stronger. I believe that true community is not founded on mere tolerance, but strengthened by pluralism that embraces diversity, welcomes changes and blossoms with compassion. Going forward, I have learned not only to be open to the differences I encounter in others, but ready to accept change within myself. I came to BU with a desire to change the world; I leave here with the hope that the world will continue to change me.

 

This I Believe

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

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John 14:1-14

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Graduating Students Share Their Spiritual Journey

Ian Quillen – BA – Neuroscience; Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences, CAS/KHC’17

There is a saying that home is where the heart is. When I first came to BU, I wanted to create a new space that I could call home. Perhaps I could have gone further away from Brookline, the town near Boston where I grew up, to accomplish this. But when I came to Marsh Chapel my freshman year, I found a place that grounded me where I could place roots.

Marsh Chapel has been described as a heart for the heart of the city, and a service in the service of the city. I would take the first part of this phrase and add an “h” to the word heart: Marsh chapel has become a hearth for me, as well as a heart for the city and a home. When I say hearth, I mean a space where people can find rest, food, and warmth. Most of all, I mean a space where people can find solace, grow, and change. I believe in building such hearths through acts of hospitality.

This belief stems from spending Tuesday nights cooking dinner for students in a basement kitchen and sharing it over conversation and laughter. It emerges from nights I would spend cleaning dishes and just listening to the simple peace of water flowing and dirt being washed away. It comes from my experiences sitting down with people and yielding space and time to them—space for them to comfortably be themselves, and time for them to tell me their stories.

I believe that one of the greatest challenges as a student is learning how to listen. This is more than just paying attention in class so that you don’t miss something. It involves not thinking about how you’ll respond to what someone is telling you, and just being present with them. Listening is becoming comfortable with your own silence so that you can discern the voices of others, the sound of your surroundings, and maybe the gentle whisper of the Divine. Once you’ve discerned that, you then have a choice to make: how do I respond to what I’ve heard?

I believe that sometimes the hardest power to master is not knowing when to act, but knowing when to yield. This is not the same as giving up, or being complacent. Yielding is knowing how much you can do to support someone before stepping back, and letting them make decisions for themselves with the tools they’ve been given. It is knowing when to let go of your ego, while still preserving your worth as a person, for the sake of another. It is knowing that you don’t have to fix every problem to have hope, hope that survives best at the hearth you’ve created for yourself and for others when all else is said and done.

These are the beliefs I’ve developed at Marsh Chapel. They are the flames that nurture me as I leave my home. They form my hearth, and where my heart is.

Svea Schreiner – M.Ed. – Educational Leadership & Policy, SED’17

A year ago, I was sitting on a rickety front porch in a place known as Holler #5, surrounded by some of the kindest, sweetest people I’ll ever meet, who welcomed me and my husband into their lives with open arms. For two years, I lived and worked as a teacher in one of the poorest counties in the U.S., McDowell County, West Virginia. Life is extremely difficult in this rural, abandoned coal- country community; it was for us during our time there and it has been for life-long residents for many generations.

Although I’ve moved back to New England and it’s been 11 months since then, it still sometimes feels surreal to be here in Boston, a place that has got to be about as close to a polar opposite of the Holler if there ever was one.

Much has been made in the last year or so of the differences between people in rural America versus those in so-called “coastal elite” urban centers like Boston. The differences are many, and the culture shock was very real as I adapted from a life spent in the Northeast to one in rural Appalachia, which seems to still be at least a few decades behind the times, for better or worse. I experienced a second round of culture-shock coming back a few years later, reintegrating into “modern” life and going to graduate school full-time this year here in the city.

But for all the ways we’re different, there are also many ways that we’re the same.

First, people are good and want to be there for each other. When we first moved into our little West Virginia home, squished in next to 30 or so other homes in the hollow between two steep and lush tree-covered mountains, our neighbors brought us vegetables from their gardens, cakes baked in their kitchens, and invited us to drink iced tea with them on their porches.

Here in Boston, I’ve seen this essential goodness studying alongside talented fellow teachers and accomplished, principled professors. I’ve seen incredible dedication and commitment to equity for children in classrooms across the country and the world, and a willingness to sacrifice and work tirelessly to ensure that all children are given the opportunity to succeed.

Secondly, people are complicated, and they cannot be reduced to any single stereotype or label. It’s very easy to write off the West Virginia contingent as an ignorant, narrow-minded monolith. I can tell you from direct experience that this is not the case. Conversely, it’s also easy to assume all of us Yankees are cold, self-centered, and unfriendly; stereotypes I heard from WV friends that are similarly untrue.

The truth is, there is no one label that can possibly encapsulate all of the beauty and joy and pain of a person’s life. Everybody has a story, and we should acknowledge the complexity of those individual stories in every person we meet.

Most importantly, we all have the same amount of God in us, regardless of where we came from, what we’ve done, or where we’re going. Looking below the surface, finding the essential goodness, and practicing love over suspicion, mercy over judgment; these are the things I believe in.

In the collision of the two disparate worlds I’ve inhabited over the last few years, I’ve learned that the thing we need most ourselves and the thing others need most from us is simply this: grace. In the face of all that separates, this common thread unites, and that unity and connection are always worth pursuing.

Magdalena Buczek- MAMS, GMS’17

I discovered these words of Thomas Merton the year before starting a Masters in Medical Sciences: “Perhaps I am stronger than I think. Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak…Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me. Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself, than strong in Him whom I cannot understand.” This thought haunted me as I struggled to believe that one day I could be a physician working with patients who experience homelessness and incarceration. Questions buzzed through my mind: Was I cut out for medical school? Could I take the intensity that everyone warns about? Standing strong in God was scarier than letting go of self-doubt.

Anxiety and fear crept into every day during the first semester. I would cry in an empty classroom, and five minutes later pull myself together enough to walk into histology lab and study slides of kidney tubules. Nighttime was (and still is) the worst for my anxiety. I sat paralyzed at the thought of the work in front of me.

In the second semester, several things happened: my brother had a serious skiing accident followed by major surgery; a friend attempted suicide; a high school classmate overdosed; and a young friend nearly died in a car accident. All the while, I was attempting to hold it together in my coursework. In the midst of this confusion and my own anxiety, I could think only one thing: “Lord, I cannot do this alone.” I was overwhelmed with work and emotions, and so I invited God to be beside me one moment, one hour, and one day at a time. Today, I told myself, I will attend lecture, review the thyroid physiology chapter and the morning’s pharmacology lecture, and map the cranial nerves. I asked God to help me focus just on that, now and for the remainder of the day, and to worry about tomorrow when and if it gets here. The beloved people in my life had taught me in a harsh way that tomorrow is no guarantee.

I often feel guilty about my anxiety, especially when I have the privileges of an excellent education, a safe home, and abundant food and support systems. I don’t know why I feel it, or why it keeps returning. But I know that I have a responsibility to use my privilege to address the injustices, poverty, and violence that plague our world. I do my best to address my anxiety, both for my wellbeing and for the wellbeing of those I serve.

My anxiety is always nearby. Managing it will be a lifetime’s work, requiring vigilance and self-reflection. May my self-doubts be constant reminders that I cannot do this alone. May my fears be invitations to be in relationship with God. Alone, I am weak, but God’s faithfulness, forgiveness, and love are infinite. Thus, in God my strength is unbounded, and I should not fear my strength.

Adrienne Lotoski – MS – Arts Administration MET’17

This I believe.

I believe in journeys. I believe that life is a journey, whether short or long, it is a continual of time. We are all here for a journey through time, a journey to experience the preciousness of life and the bonds of humankind.

I believe in sharing. I believe that sharing helps others. Sharing your knowledge with someone is to give them a bond and to opens the door to friendship. Sharing a meal with someone is to give someone substance for being. Sharing your time with someone is to share experiences.

I believe in experiences. I believe with each and every experience comes learning and lessons. Learning should be constant and never ending. And lessons are necessary for providing boundaries and guidelines to ensure future experiences are meaningful. Experiences are also to be shared to create eternal bonds of family and friendship. What is life is we don’t have family and friends to share our experiences?

I believe in happiness. I believe that the gift of happiness manifests itself in smiles. Smiles can be simply shared with your family, friends, neighbors and strangers. A simple smile can change someone’s day and can provide a ray of happiness.

I believe in helping others. I believe it is important to help those that can’t help themselves. Help is one way of facilitating another person’s journey through life. Help someone else’s journey so they benefit from your knowledge and your goodness. How difficult is it to hold a door open, pick up someone’s dropped item, or to invite someone to share a cup of coffee?

I believe in the importance of understanding. I believe that understanding is necessary for taking the journey through life. With understanding comes the ability to accept or reject, to make amends and to move on. With understanding comes knowledge and with knowledge comes respect.

I believe in respect. I believe that each and every one of us is to be respected for our beliefs including those that religious, political, scientific or sociological. Respect fosters relationships which foster knowledge which fosters good will.

I believe goodness exists in each person. I believe each person is born with goodness and that it is always there, even if it just under the surface. It might not always be easy to find the goodness, but once it is found, it can help others with their journeys.

I believe in our children. I believe it is in our children that we deliver the messages of happiness, experiences, respect and education. By teaching our children these messages, we are teaching them how to experience the journey of life and understanding.

I believe in education. A Boston University education. With education comes knowledge and with knowledge comes the ability to change. The ability to change things for the better – to make your life better, to make your brethren better, to make your community better and to make the world better.

This I believe.

Kasey Shultz – BA -Sociocultural Anthropology; Spanish; African Studies, CAS/KHC’17

1,351 days ago, on matriculation Sunday, I came to the chapel for the first time for worship and sat in the third row of pews, trying to ignore the dull ache in my chest that had taken up residence ever since my parents had left the night before to fly back to Seattle. Nervous and alone, I started wondering what I had gotten myself into. But then, the ethereal sound of the choir filled this space, resonating against the stone walls and washing over me in waves. We sang the same hymns I had sung since childhood and I was wrapped up in the familiar, comforting rhythms of liturgy. That ache in my chest evaporated, the nervousness fled, and I knew I was home.

In the four years since then, I’ve spent hours here singing and praying, studying and meditating, laughing and eating, questioning and listening. Located at the heart of campus, the chapel has also been at the heart of my four years at BU. It has introduced me to new friends and ways of thinking about faith and vocation while grounding me in a community of believers that was always there to support and encourage me. In the midst of a cohort of people from various faith traditions and backgrounds, I was challenged to define my faith and to lay out a vision of what I believe—my own personal credo.

For one thing, my time at the chapel has helped me to realize that I believe people are inherently good. But also that we make mistakes—like, a lot of mistakes. I believe that God’s love for us is so vibrant and pure that it wipes all those mistakes away. I believe that all people are connected to each other and that we need to honor that connection by taking care of and respecting one another. I believe in the baptism of rain on a fall day and the communion of food shared with friends. I believe that science and religion complement each other, that God speaks into our silences and blooms into our empty spaces, and that the Holy Spirit lives in gusting winds and tranquil waters, in babbling toddlers and freely shed tears. I believe that worship requires a community and community requires forgiveness and forgiveness requires grace. I believe that doubt is the strongest form of faith and that no person or tradition can fully comprehend the complex, paradoxical, and timeless nature of God. I believe that we are called to welcome those who have been rejected, to speak for those who have been silenced, and to lift up those who have been oppressed. I believe that prayer is a conversation, worship is a relationship and scripture is a promise.

And above all, I believe that God loves, a love that is freely given, a love that we can never avoid or escape or ignore—a love that changes us and a love that frees us. A love that moves us to believe.

This I Believe

Sunday, May 8th, 2016

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Luke 24:44-53

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Terry Baurley

In the Episcopal baptismal covenant; the bishop asks; Will you strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. The respond is I will with God’s help.

As a Criminal justice major, I learned about truth in sentencing, drugs and society, the challenges of reintegration, restorative justice, health challenges of the incarcerated, victim impact statements, drug, juvenile, veteran diversion courts and environmental advocacy, policy and law. I believe that police should wear body armor and body cameras. There are courageous individuals fire, police, first responders and emergency personnel, that every day respond to fatal car accidents, veteran suicide, opiate overdoses, accidental death, homicides and events such as the Marathon bombings and 9/11. My hero was my father in law a NY detective and Korean war veteran.

What I believe is the inherent dignity of each and every human being. Each human life is worthy of dignity and respect. I believe in One God the Father Almighty. I believe God loves each and every one of us no matter gender, race, religion or preference. I believe that everyone has the right to clean water, clean air, safe housing, health care, an education and a just and fair judicial system. The founding principles of our County are based on individual rights and freedoms that are guaranteed by our Supreme Court and Constitution. Free speech comes with enormous responsibilities. Let us use it wisely. I believe that every voice counts. Every vote counts. Make your voice and vote count. Bring a friend to the polls in November.

I believe that we need to pass comprehensive gun reform, not to take away rights but to ensure responsible ownership. I believe in changing the laws for gun shows, national background checks, and extended waiting periods.  I believe in attending House and Senate sessions. I believe in meeting with your legislators. Write to them, lobby them, demand change. Change is hard, change is difficult. Courage is the Sandy Hook teacher’s pensions that has called for the divestment from gun manufactures. I have divested from gun manufacturing and believe in socially responsible impact investing. Courage was seeing Matt Richards mother and sister at the Louis D Brown, Peace for Jorge Mother’s Day Walk for peace last year after losing their son and brother in the Marathon bombing. Today, is the twentieth anniversary and the walk is to the state house. Walking today are the personnel from the emergency rooms and hospitals, the mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends and those that have lost loved ones.

This quote is from the Mother’s Day Walk for peace, “Peace is not the absence of Violence. Peace is the presence of Healing, Reconciliation and accountability.” “The 7 principals for peace are love, unity, faith, hope, courage, justice, and forgiveness.” One way we can remember those that have died is to remember what they believed, what they valued, and who they loved. To remember them is to continue to carry on the work and continue to call for reform and change. God so loved the world and so must we.

Prayer for Social Justice:

Grant O God that your holy and life giving spirit may so move every human heart (and especially the hearts of the people of this land that barriers that divide us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease, that our divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace; through Jesus Christ our lord. Amen

(The Book of Common Prayer)

Benjamin Coleman

Picture a man living by the ocean. He lives well, surrounded by friends and family, spending his days on the warm, bright beach with the cool ocean breeze at his back. He’s a deeply religious man, going to church every week and diligently doing charitable works. One day, interrupting this man’s paradise, a forecaster announces that a hurricane is headed toward them that will certainly destroy the town. The man, instead of panicking, resolves to stay, thinking, “I am an upright Christian. I know God loves me. God will surely save me.” Later, as the clouds roll in and the wind picks up, his son visits him, pleading, “Father, please come away with me. The storm will flood your home.” The man responds, “Oh my son of little faith, the storm is merely a test. I am religious, so I know God will save me.” Then, as the wind howls and the thunder booms, a police officer passes the man’s house, yelling to the man, “The hurricane is here. Can’t you see that the sea is rising? Let me get you away from the beach.” But the man resolutely states, “I’m not moving, for God loves me, and God alone will save me from the storm.”

If we lived in the world of the Bible, this story would end much like the ending of Abraham and Isaac: divine intervention where God literally stops Abraham’s hand from killing his son. The man would be swooped away by an angel and flown to safety, or Christ, walking on water, would appear to calm the waters of the storm. But we do not live in that world; the man drowned. By just opening a newspaper, we can clearly see that inequity, suffering, and malice pervades our world with no apparent grand purpose behind it all. In this world, it is easy to resign to Nietzcheism, that life is only about one’s ability to thrive over others. However, this only serves to perpetuate the pain and seeming meaninglessness of existence.

When the man arrives in heaven, he angrily asks St. Peter, “Why did God let me die?” Peter answered, “Oh you fool, he tried to save you with a weatherperson, an officer, and your son. Why are you here?”

I believe in the divine orchestra. God of our time cannot be a single violin playing an isolated musical line, just as God isn’t an omnipotent, old man with a white beard. Instead, God is the sublimity of all the instruments combined, for God has the capacity to live in all of us if we truly carry out our charge to love one another. Just as instruments support and build each other up in symphonies to create something greater than its parts divided, humans, loving each other, must do so in this life to evoke the divine. So, in what do I believe? Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est: Where charity and love abide, God is also there.

Mike Chan

For most of my life, I felt like I was living two different lives. There’s the life that everybody sees, where I’m kind, helpful, and considerate. It’s what people would tell you if you asked them who I was, and it’s probably how I’d describe myself too. I wouldn’t be lying, but I wouldn’t be telling you the truth either. Because there’s the life that everyone sees, and there’s the life that I see. In this life, I’m sick, and I’m dying: I’m someone struggling with depression.

I had always thought that being depressed was the consequence of tragedy and suffering. I know many believe it is a natural condition that everyone encounters – and overcomes – at some point in their lives. But depression is not always synonymous with sadness or grief. Rather, it is a sickness that nullifies life into a dull melancholy. Depression, at its core, strips away the spirit of makes us alive.

Before my depression, I had defined myself as a hard worker, as someone who was mentally tough and strong. But when I got sick, I found myself losing whatever enthusiasm or energy I had for life. Everything, from talking to friends and going to class, became tedious and difficult, and I soon found myself paralyzed with anxiety, unable to do much of anything but lay in bed all day. It took me a long time to realize that I was in trouble and in need of help. And even then, I continued to see myself as unworthy of anyone’s love, thinking no one would actually pity me enough to care for my well-being. But depression often traps you in a prison of self-loathing and delusion. It leaves a void within your own vulnerable psyche, and only compassion and forgiveness can fill and overflow it.

It was hard finding the courage to share my experience with others, and even harder learning how to receive their support once I did. Initially, I felt embarrassed to be associated with the stigmas of mental illness and be seen as a rehabilitating failure. But the empathy that persevered through strangers and close friends alike helped me accept the notion that it was okay to be the person in need. “People might have bigger problems than you’,” a friend said, “but that doesn’t make it any less important.”

Speaking about my depression doesn’t make things easier, but it has helped me found meaning in this torturous experience. And despite the hell I’ve faced over the past six months, I am grateful for the profound insight it has given me. I now see the value of compassion, and how the good we feel comes when we help others in need. Someday, I hope I can repay the kindness given to me to those that are trapped like I once was. And I hope that, in spite of the struggles each of us face in our lives, we can make a conscious effort in ensuring that it’s a fight no one faces alone.

Clark Warner

This I believe.

I hear the voice that speaks all things into being.  I hear the still-small voice in the rainfall and in the sunrise.

I hear the still-small voice in the footsteps of passers by and in the flight of the birds overhead. 

Over these last three years I have heard it more clearly than ever in the brilliance of my classmates at the School of the Prophets. 

That same voice, an inner voice, lives in each of us but more importantly in all of us and in the connections between us.

If we listen to the voice, we learn how to be, how to thrive in the kingdom of God.  If we listen, we learn how to be what others need of us so that they can also thrive in the kingdom of God.  If we listen, we learn how each of us belongs to the other. 

We can’t fully understand the still-small voice alone.  It is beyond us. If we listen intently and share all that we have heard with others who are also listening intently we all begin to understand. 

This I believe. That the voice of the Lord speaks a word to each of us and in community we learn the sentences, the pages, the chapters, indeed, the book. 

This voice that speaks all things into existence has re-told my story.  It has taken my shame and doubt, my worries and fears and told me to ignore them so that I can practice for a life in the Kingdom.  It has re-told my story so that I can join with confidence in the story of our existence.   

Here, at the School of Theology, as I heard the future prophets speak, I have learned to listen more intently to the still-small voice, to hear my word.  I will take my word to you, please take your words to me and to each other and together we will begin to understand and thrive as God intended. 

This I believe.  

Jaimie Dingus

I grew up in southern Virginia. My town was white, middle-class, and conservative. As a liberal Unitarian Universalist, I could not wait to move to Boston. With large UU churches and the UUA headquarters, I was convinced that everyone in Boston must be Unitarian Universalist. I thought I was moving to a place where everyone would be just like me. 

So, I was pretty shocked when I got to BU and realized actually no one here was just like me. There is diversity here, unlike anything I could have imagined. I remember the surreal experience of walking from my freshman dorm to the matriculation ceremony, and meeting someone from Bangladesh. Another time, I ate Indian food with a friend who’d grown up in India. I listened, mesmerized, as my roommate spoke to her mom on the phone, switching between English and Cantonese. The world that had been so small, grew.

As it grew, my understanding of my place within it changed too. I learned about my privilege as an educated, white, American woman. I learned that in order to fight the systems that gave me this privilege, I would have to hear a wide diversity of voices.

This year, I followed a call to build communities that facilitate positive encounters with difference. As president of BU’s Interfaith Council I have helped bring people together from different religions, people who have been taught not to work together, in order to have honest dialogue, and build community.

This I Believe

This world is filled with different people. People whose faces, histories and languages do not resemble mine, or my home community’s. Yet, my life is deeply enriched by learning from these differences. I cannot undo the world’s injustice, the hatred and pain, if I am not learning from and collaborating with these other voices. 

As I work to listen to the experiences of others, I am reminded of what connects us all. I believe in a divine light that lives within each of us. This light reminds me to love each person I come in contact with, no matter our differences. It teaches me to love their beauty and inherent goodness, even as I love their failings, ignorance, and mistakes.

This I believe, that my faith calls me to love all people and the divinity that lives in them. And as I do this to remember my own divine light. 

There was nothing like starting anew far from friends and family, to reveal the poison that is the isolation in our culture. Through our diversity, we are meant to be interconnected and yet, systems of competition, greed and hate pull us from each other.

This I believe, that by participating in community that is subversive and caring we break the walls of isolation and that give us an illusion of separateness. I have learned so much as a student here, but most of all I have learned that despite our differences and our struggles, we belong to a single human family.