Dear alumni/ae and friends,
We are facing the challenge of mending the tears in our relationships with one another and the ways in which our personal faith is being tested. We face war upon war and the deaths and sufferings they always bring—senseless gun violence, policing that does not always protect and serve, Charleston, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland—the deaths of innocents of all kinds and circumstances and more.
There is, as Maya Angelou’s poem “On the Pulse of Morning” reminds us, no hiding place down here. Drawing on the gospel song “No Hiding Place,” Angelou reminds all of us that we cannot run away from ourselves and that we definitely cannot hide from God.
The ways in which violence is no longer housed in the places where we thought we could hold it are pressing upon us. It is slowly molding us into a status quo of despair in which we practice a-least-common-denominator sense of fairness and compassion that does not call us to live beyond our comfort zones or what we believe or what we have been taught to believe into a world that is vast, as God continues to spin out creation in our lives. There is much work to do if we are going to counter these hard times that remain with us. We must remember that we are in a world that we help make that needs a new vision—or perhaps an ancient one—molded by justice and peace rather than winning and losing.
I think one way we can face these tough times with fresh energy, vigor and urgency is to stand on the frontlines of love. A love that is determined to face into the challenges of our day. A love that is neither sentimental nor vapid. A love that is not meek and mild or nice or tolerant or our hormones running amok.
Eschewing the hiding places where we would go to escape mending the tears in our relationships must be at the forefront of how we interact with one another; we must embrace strength, fear, doubt, certainty and all those emotions that mark us as humans who seek the Holy as part of our daily lives. Then love becomes a blessing and a forerunner to change that is shaped by those seeking a new heaven and earth.
Emilie M. Townes
E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society