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Jewell Chapel, a weekly time of spiritual focus for the College community, is essential to the identity and mission of Jewell.  Persons from across the campus are invited to prepare and share the weekly “500 Words”.  The general theme for “500 Words” is spiritual growth.  Speakers approach the theme in different ways.  How do you define spiritual growth?  What things contribute to spiritual growth?  What are some obstacles or challenges to spiritual growth?  Describe a time when you experienced spiritual growth?  How has the Jewell experience affected your spiritual growth?  Thanks to the members of our community who have contributed their “500 Words.”  I hope you enjoy and are inspired by their thoughts.

Dr. David Sallee
May 7,

The founding of the College 1849 occurred in a much simpler time. No cars, no phones, no learning commons, no iPads.  No buildings on this hill, in fact.  Just a hill and a dream.  Let's create a college because pastors and parishioners who are educated function better than those who are uneducated.  Very simple; very clear.

Simplicity and clarity have long attracted me.  Many years ago, when I was student in junior college (they were junior colleges, not community colleges, in those days), my best friend was the first person, not the last, to tell me I was in simple-minded...incapable of, or not interested in, understanding complex issues.  At that moment, we were sitting in his car at the local Dog 'n Suds.  Yes, I said Dog 'n Suds (hot dogs and root beer), a drive-in precursor to Sonic that we often referred to not as Dog ‘n Suds, but as Arf 'n Barf.  Ron Burgundy would have recognized us as a classy group.  Our town also had a Mr. Swiss, which was a cheap knockoff of Dairy Queen. Does anyone remember Mr. Swiss? One moderately talented guy could run a Mr. Swiss by himself.  A 500 square foot Swiss chalet with six tables, a freezer and a grill.  Delicious food there. 

I was simple then and I am simple today.  In fact, I think I look for simplicity and clarity more today than I did then.  Reflective of my preference for simplicity is the fact that I love the benediction we say together at the end of each chapel service. That benediction is based on chapter 6 of Micah. 

You recall that at that moment, there was a conflict between God and the nation of Israel.  The people of Israel were not behaving as God expected them to.  They had a sort of parent-child discussion going on. 

God is saying…

My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you?

I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.

I sent Moses to lead you;

I have taken care of you in times of trouble and yet you behave badly.

To which the people answer…”what do you want from us?”

Shall I come before you with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

Will you be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?

Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

This sounds all too familiar to the parents in the room.  Most of us have said to our children…”you need to shape up.”  And the child responds with “what do you want from me?” 

I am sure God was tempted to say the same thing I have said in that circumstance, “I brought you into this world and I can take you out of it.” He is actually capable of making good on that threat.

Instead, Micah responds on behalf of the Lord…

He has shown you what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

That’s all…fourteen words…pretty much on the order of “love your neighbor.” That is what he wants us to do.

It could hardly be more clear...justice, mercy, and humility. Or, as we say it in our benediction, “We depart from this place with a renewed commitment to do justice, love mercy, and walk wisely with our God and with each other.”

For a lifelong simpleton like me, these are good words to live by.  I hope they are meaningful for you too. As we close the semester and transition into summer, I hope you carry the words of our weekly benediction with you.  Write them on a card; put them on the wallpaper of your phone or computer; tattoo them on the back of your hand…no don’t do that.  But take them with you. Put them somewhere that will be in front of you at some point every day. And have a great summer.

Michael Foster
April 30,
When I was in 8th grade at St. Mary’s School, my classmates voted me most likely to become a priest. This seemed like a given because of my involvement with our parish.  I was a dedicated altar boy, lector, and Eucharistic minister through my high school years. Our bishop noticed this dedication. At my confirmation, he told my parents that I should consider the priesthood.  When I was a freshman in college trying to figure out a potential career after graduation, my parents took me to see a psychologist who gave me a battery of personality tests.  He suggested I consider one of the following:  priest, social worker, lawyer, or college professor. We can see how that ended up!

This dedication to the Catholic Church and my faith in general gradually began to erode as I came to grips with the fact that I was gay and learned more about the Church’s views and teachings on homosexuality. The biggest strain in my relationship with the Church came as I completed my first master’s degree at the University of Notre Dame. The school would neither recognize the LGBT student organization as an official club on campus, nor allow the LGBT film festival to continue because of the Church’s religious teachings.  I began to feel withdrawn from all aspects of the Church. My biggest fear was that the Catholic Church and her followers would no longer welcome or accept me. Fortunately, I had the love and support of my immediate family and close friends to help me through this difficult time.

During my graduate career at the University of Illinois, I discovered a more diverse and accepting environment. These years allowed me to accept myself and rethink my relationship with God.  The best example of this was getting to know extended members of my family who lived in the area. My great aunt and uncle, who at that time were in their 90s, were practicing Catholics, yet they also loved and accepted me. The same went for their children, my second cousins, who remain close with me. This love and acceptance helped to calm my fears and feel closer to God.  As I talked with my Grandma Foster about these visits with the extended Foster family, she and I became closer over the years, communicating via email when she was well into her 90s.

I experienced the depth of my grandmother’s unconditional love when other extended family members found out I was gay and began to gossip about me. She stood up for me and told these relatives that being gay didn’t change her love for me. This unconditional love helped to calm my fears about not being loved or accepted by my fellow Catholics. Sadly, she passed away last month at the age of 94. At her funeral, I was amazed to hear how involved she was with the community and how much her love touched everyone she met. The priest, her godson, talked about this unconditional love, or agape, that she had for everyone around her and how it made them feel warm and secure. God shows this unconditional love to His followers, despite what religious institutions may say.  I am not a member of any church at the moment but I am slowly finding my way back to God and faith because of this unconditional love, or agape, that my grandmother showed me. I am using her love as a reference point on this journey of faith, and if I get lost again, I can always remember her love as a tool to help me to get back on track.

Samantha Lampe
April 23,

The Thursday before last, I read Philippians 2:5-11 when I was spending some time with God.  At church the following Sunday, we read those same verses.  Then, on Monday those verses were referenced in the book I was reading for my capstone with Dr. Horne.  I thought, maybe this is important.  For me, this is a passage I read once and then reread, knowing there is something significant here.  It begins with “In your relationships with one another have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”  The following verses are what really piqued my interest.  Verse six reads, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage...”  To be used to his own advantage.  This concept triggered a memory of another passage: John chapter 13.  That passage began “It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. 

Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus.”  Verse three continues with “Jesus knew the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;” Okay, Jesus is God, and God is all powerful; therefore, Jesus is all powerful.  Got it.  What shocked me was the next word: so.  Jesus is all powerful, “so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciple's feet...”  The hands that hold all power are holding and washing the dirty feet of his disciples – disciples who were loving if unreliable at best and willing to betray him for thirty pieces of silver at worst.  This is the model that Jesus gave us for loving others: humbling ourselves in service, even to the point of working for the good of those who won't appreciate it or work for your good in return.  Let's turn back to where we began in Philippians. 

Philippians 2:5-7 reads “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross!”  Power when directed by love serves; it does not seek to be served.  So, if we seek to mold our lives after the example of Christ, we are to utilize our power to serve others.

Milton Horne
April 16,

Mark 14:1; Job 39:13-17: The Ostrich and the Swan

Mark’s gospel offers words of foreboding as it reflects upon those lying in wait for Jesus’s life two days before the Passover; they were trying to arrest Jesus by stealth. It makes me recall earlier in the gospel the report of Jesus’ forty days in the Judean wilderness. Only Mark’s gospel, in fact, adds the observation that he was with the beasts. And I imagine the wilderness to be the place where Jesus learned a bit about stealth: mountain lions hunting the weak; eagles spying the kill from their rocky crags; ravens preying upon the carcasses. I wonder whether in those days, when Jesus’ own life was at risk, he thought of that wilderness experience with the wild beasts.

I have had too much fun at a local Christian church this Lenten season imagining Jesus recollecting the book of Job as he wandered in the wilderness, perhaps imagining his own prophetic work. I see him puzzling over God’s appearance to Job in the whirlwind, wondering how those animals could be a serious response to Job’s complaints. And I see Jesus coming to the ostrich in much the same way as Job or any reader might: with utter bewilderment and amusement.

The ostrich is offered as an example that in God’s creation human wisdom may simply not apply. The ostrich has forgotten wisdom, the poet tells us, and leaves her eggs to be warmed by the earth, but takes little notice that they may be crushed under foot. It doesn’t make a lot of sense; but the poet’s portrayal God’s delight with the ostrich, makes you think there might be some plan. In fact, I have been guilty of seriously misreading the animals in God’s response to Job, especially the ostrich. Hearing these creatures with Saint Säen’s Carnival of the Animals playing in my head, I probably have never seen her for what the poet intends: an odd creature, lacking sense, with only the ability to run like hell. Yes, I have mistakenly sentimentalized her for a swan. You probably wonder how that’s possible. Well let me tell you.

Over the years I have observed it to be exactly the way Christians come to the cross during Holy week. For Christians in the West the cross has become a work of art, thing of beauty, even a symbol of a vast and powerful economy and nation state. Its ugliness, in other words, has been lost to our consciousness, because we only talk about what happens on the other side of the cross, on resurrection day. And that’s because of our need to turn everything into a strategy for triumph. We’re fixated on the victory without thought of the suffering faith that must inevitably precede it.

So, I remind you as we sit together thinking of appropriate words for this Holy Week, the cross is the ostrich that defies wisdom, not the swan. It shrinks our hubris, quiets our presumptuous confidence, and forces us to sit still, thinking less about faith in Jesus than about the faith of Jesus as his days run out. Amen.

Devi Fitelly
April 9,

The Buddha tells us that Life is Dukkha. Most Buddhists will translate this for you as, “Life is Suffering.”  However, this is not a translation that sits well with me. The Pali term dukkha is a to-be verb meaning is. Literally translated, “Life is.” Now that sentence may feel incomplete to you. There is no description, and this paints the meaning. Life is not tied up neatly or constant—the word itself implies a temporary state. In this teaching, it is implied that life is inconsistent, that life is chaotic. To say that life is dukkha implies a kind of fluctuation and decay that does not exist in the English translation. Therefore, a more correct translation would imply that life is beyond our control.

This is not a teaching that is unique to Buddhism. You will find similar insinuations in Ecclesiates, where human action is proclaimed useless and empty, or in quantum mechanics, which is predicated on the idea that as the universe expands, so do the spaces between particles, making mico- and macroscopic movement more erratic, exemplifying this nebulous and unpredictable movement toward chaos in our universe. It’s unsettling to recognize how normal chaos is.

When confronted by this harsh reality, people often find themselves at a loss. Being broken, having lost hope, and having succumbed to chaos and confusion—these are components of human life. To deny the reality of our own innate brokenness is to deny ourselves vulnerability and possibility for change.

We cannot control our environment. We cannot shape the world into a more fitting likeness or bully it into behaving.  We cannot rewrite the past or foresee the future. I wish I could tell you that it was that simple, but that kind of thinking is ultimately unrealistic.

What we can do is choose to seek out the lessons found within suffering. Our grief carries profound revelations about the ways that we respond to the world around us, as does our anger and our fear. We don’t need to repress our reactions or belittle our emotions—we can choose instead to treat our suffering as a teacher. By cultivating an awareness of his emotional responses, the mindful student can interpret the unexpected as a learning moment rather than a punishment. Suffering can lead us to understand that lessons spring from misfortunes and that the wise are those who answer pain with compassion and choose to flourish in response to adversity.

This is part and parcel of daily life. With suffering as your teacher, you can recognize your own brokenness and find strength in the choice to live anyway.
Mary Olive ended a poem once with this:
“Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me what it is you plan to do with your one wild and precious life.”
Life is Dukkha, Life is strange and wild and unexpected and frightening.
And we can choose to live it.
Thank you.

Michael Hon
April 2,

As many of us reflect on our time at Jewell, we'll think about the great friendships we've made, the paths of intellectual and spiritual growth we've tread, and the colorful extracurricular activities many of us have shared in at and around our beloved Los Compas. And while I could reflect the morning away with my own funny stories, I would likely leave most of you here unimpressed and uninspired. So instead, I want to speak briefly on my personal philosophy that the foundation of a happy life is built on three main principles – principles that have all been fostered in my time at Jewell. They are: a love of God and others, a positive attitude, and a love of humor.

Spiritual or not, I firmly believe that everyone should have a love and respect for something greater than themselves – whatever that may be. For me, I have found a love for God as a source of strength and hope in my most turbulent times and a source of grace and peace during my calmest times. But a happy life is entirely incomplete without a love for others. And I would additionally argue that the happiest people don't just love their friends and family, but love others who have entirely different perspectives as well. One of the beautiful facets of Jewell is that it encourages us to at very least appreciate different perspectives, if not entirely embrace them. And I would argue that it is this love-promoting characteristic above all others that makes the Jewell community such an enriching one – a source of happiness for all of us.

Next, there's the importance of a positive attitude. I'll admit it's slightly cliché, but I firmly believe that we make our lives as happy or sad as we choose, solely based on attitude. 2012 was a horrible year for me – absolutely nightmarish. I was dealing with a ton of different problems and generally hating life in the process. But eventually, I began exploring the silver linings in situations and choosing to focus on the good in life – not the bad; I chose to broaden my horizons at Jewell, try new things, and throw a little bit of excitement into my life here and there. And as a result, I've never been happier. I treat each new day as an adventure, a chance for me to be a better person than I was the day before, and to view obstacles as opportunities rather than given defeats. If you ever consider viewing life from a largely positive lens, I guarantee that you will be happier for it.

Finally, I feel that a love of humor is absolutely essential to happiness. For most of you who know me, you know that I love to laugh and that I love to make others laugh. I feel that humor keeps life in perspective and on an even keel. For instance, remember the grand opening of the PLC when we shot off metallic streamers that got caught in the power lines and killed the power to not only the PLC but a few of the dorms too? #classic. But this is what I'm talking about – we have to keep life lighthearted and enjoy our slipups. Life's just more fun that way.

So in closing, I urge you to lean on the higher power in your life for support and stability, to love and embrace everyone in your life, to constantly live with a positive attitude, and laugh as often as possible. Because really, what on earth could be more rewarding than living a happy life?

Alex Bush
March 26,

I just stood there, my gaze affixed with his. I did not know his name, his hobbies or his dreams. I knew only two things, that we shared the same age, 19 at that time, and that my previous 19 years had likely been a bit different than his. I was working in the community health center in Retreat, a township of Cape Town, South Africa and this was the first time I assisted in carrying out a simple HIV test. The test itself wasn’t complicated, and took just a few painstaking minutes for the results to develop. It was during those minutes that I found myself meeting the eyes across the table of a man my age who stood, trying to appear unnerved, as he waited to see if at age 19 he would carry on the rest of his life dependent on medication not so easy to come by in his neighborhood.

I was lucky enough to study abroad in South Africa the summer after my freshman year, and I’ve already told this story once or twice since my return. At that time I really struggled with the question why. Why wasn’t I born into an impoverished township in the closing years of Apartheid like him? Why isn’t he speaking on this stage? Why am I here? And why is he there? I had done nothing to deserve a supportive family, a healthy body, and an ever-present source of food and shelter. These were gifts, and much like our annual birthday presents we typically do nothing to deserve them but simply be.

This last summer, while making phone calls for a research study at KU Med, I gained another peer, a man just about my age addicted to cigarettes partially due to an unhealthy marriage with a woman that yelled at him quite a bit and the stress of raising three kids on a four-figure household income. I stopped seeing him come in for appointments one week, and heard that he had been evicted from his house. The last thing I heard him talking about was that his wife was pregnant at that time with their fourth kid, and he, not yet 25, was already contemplating getting a vasectomy. Again I ask, why him?

We are always taught to ask why when we’re growing up, which is good; it’s simply how we grow to understand the world around us. I have come to learn however, that whys can get us too caught up. As I struggled with the question of why, and followed that struggle with a classic Dr. Chance CTI last semester, I started to realize that frankly this is one of those why’s I will never truly figure out, and I just have to be okay with that. But it gets even harder to leave out the why when the chips aren’t falling in your favor, or in favor of the ones you love. Why aren’t things really going as I planned this semester? Why’d my best friend’s brother die in that four-wheeler accident? Why did this friend get brain cancer? We ask why, but sometimes there just isn’t an answer. We blame God, we blame ourselves, and we even blame the person sitting next to us. Getting caught up on the whys when it comes to things like birthplace, gifts, and tragedies is exhausting, discouraging, and potentially destructive.

Regardless of how your hand is dealt, or how your neighbor’s hand is dealt, above all things we are told to use the gifts we are given, this life that we are put in, to carry out God’s grace on Earth. For a little biblical backing, it’s written in 1 Peter 4:8-10, “8Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”

I’ve learned that rather than asking why, and continually falling to discouragement or frustration that brings me farther from both God and from reality, it is more important to keep an eye open for situations where I can just try get a smile out of the guy getting evicted from his house, that struggles to support his kids, has an angry pregnant wife, and a nicotine addiction he can’t afford. I don’t know why I was the 19-year-old administering the HIV test that day, and not the one receiving it, but I know I was happy to tell the kid across the table that his test came back negative, and happy to tell him how to be more careful next, and even happier to share a smile with him in the end.

Jeanine Haistings
March 12,

Today I share of part my spiritual journey

I was raised an Italian Catholic. 

In 1988 I came to Jewell, we were still a very Baptist college and I was a semi-Catholic at that time. In high school I refused the sacrament of confirmation.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to be Catholic anymore. My roommate for all four years didn’t help my confusion. She was the past presidents’ granddaughter and VERY Baptist.  She could quote a bible verse for everything and she felt free to share them all. In my mind the Bible was just a textbook for Biblical Ethics Class.  I questioned God, Jesus, and my religion.

My junior year I traveled to England.  I had never been away from home.  The long plane ride and the uncomfortable living conditions solidify I was not anywhere close to home.  Miserable, I wanted to leave immediately.  My parents and my husband, then boyfriend at the time, convinced me I could do it.  I needed to dig deep and find my strength.  How did I do that, find strength when I was so tired, scared and lonely.  I needed my family, I couldn’t do this on my own.  I sat in my room, I went on walks, I listened to music.  Nothing worked.  Then I went to church at the Bath Abbey. As I sat through the service, I took in the music, the beauty of the church and I heard the bible.  Everything seemed to become a part of me that day.  I still can’t explain the feeling in words.  At that moment I felt my family, they were with me, I felt my strength.  Then I realized that I felt these things so far away from home because I did have faith, it was Jesus helping me, and it was my Catholic Religion that had helped me understand and realize what this faith meant.  I honestly feel I walked into that church almost a non-believer and walked out a Christian again. 

I returned to the Abbey, but this time with my roommate and our daughters. It was another transforming visit.  Here was the woman who challenged me to find faith every day in college walking with me in the place where I regained my faith.  While on a tour, we were able to go the top of the Abbey. In the bell tour we looked through this small hole in the floor and we could see the whole church below us.  This look out spot was used during services to tell the bell ringers when to start and stop.  As I looked through this hole, I actually saw myself 15 years prior as a college student sitting in the pew.  I was crying and then I just stopped.  I saw the calm come over my body.  I saw my smile. 

As I stood up, my roommate saw the look on my face and said, “something very special happened here.”  She remembered the letters I had wrote her and we both knew I could never turn my back on faith again after that day. 

I truly believe I was called to that place during college.

See I had to get away from what I knew.  I had to be very uncomfortable.  It was then that I was able to listen to God. 

Many times in life God has lead me TO times of confusion, loneliness, and even pain, not just through them but TO them so that I will stop and listen.  After each one of these times in my life I have received a message that has lead me to be the person He wants me to be.  I stand here today knowing this is where I should be.  I have no doubt I am doing His work.  I was meant to be a wife and a mother.  I was meant to be a professor on THIS campus guiding young people to be the best teachers they can be. I know that if I do this work, many children around the world will be touched and will be educated. I can give no greater gift. Now when something traumatic or uncomfortable is happening in my life, I know it is time to listen.  God is helping me OUT of my comfort zone so I will hear His message.  Listen, be the person He has made you.  It may not always be easy, or comfortable. But you will find happiness being your true self.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Ephesians 2:10
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Psalm 139:14-16
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them

Jillian Bush
March 5,

Until the age of eleven, I had always grown up in the same split-level house. The house was all I’d ever known, and I loved it. I didn’t really know anything about the house, but that was okay. When I was ten and my parents decided it was time for our six-person family to upsize, they searched and searched for a house they liked but ultimately decided we’d just built our own.

So they bought a vacant lot and supplies and put us all to work, and I was skeptical. After all, there were tons of premade houses to choose from, and it would have been so much easier to just buy something that was packaged and ready to go. But it wasn’t too long before I began to love the house. Sometimes I would sit inside staring at the rooms and think, I chose this paint color; I helped raise that wall; I walked across the roof before there were shingles on it.
There were times when I would wonder if we should have picked a more unique design for our house. I mean, a two-car garage ranch house was exactly the kind of house you’d expect a family living in suburban Liberty, Missouri to have, and tons of other families had built from the exact same blueprint. But it was okay, because we knew all the intricacies of the design- why this wall was there and those stairs were here. And, besides, our house had blue shutters and two front doors.

There were times when I was ashamed to be a resident of the house—like when I had arguments with my parents, or like when my little brother left his rotting Jack-o-Lantern on the porch for a month after Halloween. But living there didn’t mean I had to leave a rotting pumpkin on the porch. In fact, I could go pick his pumpkin up and throw it away, and the house would still stand there, and it would still have blue shutters and two front doors. When I moved away to college, that was the first time I’d ever lived anywhere but home. I still visited home often and thought about it more. And then I began to make friends who didn’t like the homes they grew up in much, or who didn’t have a place to really call home, and for the first time I started to see all the different kinds of places a person could live. And then as time went on, I stopped going home so much. And the more I forgot to go home, the more I’d forget about going home, until the notion that I could exist independently from it caused it to unknowingly lapse into a memory, a bygone phase of life.

I visited home last weekend to find that my parents had surprised me with a beautifully repainted bedroom that’s there for me to enjoy even though I don’t come around as often as I used to. As I left to come back to school on Monday, I couldn’t help but realize that ever since I’ve lived there, the house has continued to provide me with so many beautiful things even though I’ve usually neglected to appreciate it and the people who live in it. And so I pulled out of the driveway, leaving only physically, and I came back with the sight of blue shutters and two front doors ever-present in my rearview mirror.

There may come a time when my family will no longer need the house and will move away. Maybe someday society will realize it no longer has a need for conventional houses at all. Or perhaps a building inspector will come along and be able to prove that the house was built all wrong and needs to be demolished entirely. There might even be a day when the blue shutters are painted grey, and the second front door is sealed off for a room to be built behind it.
But that’s okay. Because the uncertainty of the home’s future doesn’t have to detract from its essence today. In fact, somehow it seems to make it even more meaningful.

And still, I have a feeling that next time I venture home, the house will still be standing there, and it will still have blue shutters, and two front doors.

Andy Pratt
February 26,

There are three words in the College motto, Deo fisus labora - God, Trust, Work.  If we know only that much, the three words and the order they are in, we know a great deal.  The motto is translated, “Having trusted in God, work.”  Implicit in the Latin phrase is an implied ‘you.’  “You, having trusted in God, work.”  Yet who is the implied speaker?  God is not the speaker because if it were God the phrase would be, “Having trusted in me, work.”  It is not the faculty, or the administration, or even the President because the motto speaks to them as well.  Who is speaking?  The College is speaking to us.  As we walk across campus, the voices of Jewell’s past speak to us -- Deo fisus labora.  “Having trusted in God, work” is the spirit of the College speaking to all who enter her halls.

Several years ago, I asked Dr. Jane Woodruff for a translation and explanation of the College motto.  She closed her explanation with this sentence.  “The last word in a Latin sentence is always the most important, so this may suggest that, although the "trusting" must come first, it's not the most important thing to do; work is.”  On a college campus, work connotes reading, writing, reasoning, and taking examinations.  Valuable and meaningful work, yes, but motto worthy?  What work would be so significant to include in the College motto? 

There is the work of knowing ourselves.  The phrase “know thyself” is central to Western and Christian history and thought.  We work with logic and language to know the profound understandings that may only be communicated through story and symbol.  Not only the truths that are “out there” but the deepest truths “in here.” 

There is the work of seeing what God is doing in this world and then binding our life’s work to it.  Theologian Philip Hefner used the phrase “created co-creator” as a description of human being.  The adjective created corresponds to the conditionedness of human being, those realities of our existence over which we have no control.  The noun co-creator corresponds to the freedom of human being, integrating self-awareness, decision, action and responsibility.  We make choices that have real consequences for the future.  At times we use our freedom to make choices that improve the world, bringing us closer to God’s purpose in creation.  Sin is the term for those times we use our freedom for selfishness, taking us farther away from God’s purpose in creation. 

The call of God is to exercise freedom courageously.  By the leading of God’s Spirit and with an understanding of the structures and systems of the world in which we live, we can, sinful though we are, make complex decisions that strive for the flourishing of all God’s creation.  And in making such decisions we give praise and honor to the God who created us, set the conditions of our existence, and calls us to be co-creators.  Deo fisus labora

David Sanchez
February 19,

What Have I Learned?

John Stewart Mill says in his… excuse me, I just threw up a little.
For the last four years I have been asked to constantly question the role of the individual in society, and I have finally found my answer. 4 Months, 10 Days, 14 Hours, and 30 minutes ago, I collapsed into my friend’s Katja’s arms as she relayed to me that our best friend since childhood, Alexis Christina Elliott had ended her life.

The days following the beginning of absolute heartbreak were the darkest of my life. For the first time, I felt the destructive force of hopelessness that Alex must have been struggling with before she passed. Almost instantaneously, I began ripping everyone away from me at every chance I got, constantly forcing my friends away, trying to alienate myself every time we had an interaction because for some stupid reason, we always attack the ones we love the most when we’re upset. Don’t believe me? Just ask your roommates, I’m sure they have something to say about that (haha). But this attack was on more than just my friends, I was ostracizing myself from my own community. From where there was pain, came beauty.

The one thing that Jewell has taught me to do was the exact thing that I turned my back on in time of trouble. Negativity and hurt from Alexis’ death consumed my every thought and word like a fiendish fire; trying to burn every bridge that I’ve built here at Jewell, but it didn’t matter how much HATE I spread, or how irrational I may have been, my brothers, friends, and even educators stayed Resilient and showed me what real community was about. They didn’t give up on me and for that, I am infinitely thankful.

As graduation approaches ever so quickly, I have asked myself time and time again “What have I learned?” I mean, I learned how to sing so that’s probably pretty good considering my degree, but somehow that answer is not nearly substantial enough. I mean, I spent 4 years working on a piece of paper that says, “Well, according to William Jewell College, Deo Fisus, Labora dot, dot, dot, then some more Latin, dot, dot, dot,  David Steven Sanchez can sing, followed by more Latin.” So what should we really be taking with us when we walk across the stage in the impossibly hot Mabee center in May? Over the past 4 years, what have I learned? What should you be taking with you when it’s your time to dawn the cap and gown?

If there is one definite truth that Jewell’s Liberal Arts Education has taught us, it’s that the individual cannot make it on their own. Our piece of the Jewell community is what has allowed us to find who we are, make of ourselves who we want to be, and thrive in doing so. If you learn nothing else in your 4 years here, learn the truth and hope of the community here at Jewell. Learn that true community goes with you beyond academic discourse that continues beyond normal class hours, beyond the hill entirely, and out fueling our future with faith, into our weddings full of love, into our reunions, into our careers, into our families, through the good, through the bad, and into our eternal lives.

On MAY 17th, 2014, I know that there will be plenty of tears, and even more uncertainty, but we proceed when our names are called with one certain truth; that no matter what happens, we will walk forward knowing that the community we have found has finally brought us to back to the beginning of hope, our community has showed us home and home is where the heart is, home is where we all start over again, only this time, we get to shape our own beautiful reality.

Eric Lewis
February 12,

After a few minutes spent gathering my courage, I took my right foot off the ground and placed it on the pedal. The bike did not shake at all because Chris still held me by the shoulders. “You know you have to start pedaling at some point,” he said. So I pushed down on the left pedal, and Chris released me. The bike inched forward, and as the left pedal began to rise beneath me, I in turn pressed down the right. But the bike began to accelerate. The right pedal rose rapidly from the antipodes while my foot continued pressing down, and the bike began to slow down. The pedal’s momentum, along with my instinct to somehow pull it up by lifting my foot, as if the two were super-glued together, separated foot and pedal and then butt and seat. In the next second I found myself lying on my side with a grass-stained T-shirt and a scraped knee as my three closest friends, including that one girl whom I would really have liked to impress, stood over me laughing.

I opened my college application essay by describing this scene from my senior year of high school. I used this example to discuss my childhood tendency to give up whenever things got too hard—thus my never mastering riding a bike—and how, being a bit more mature, I was more willing to try something new and risk humiliating myself.

Of course, like many epiphanies, my acknowledgement of my cowardice and commitment to be better were fleeting. I promptly found myself a comfortable niche once at William Jewell and refused to leave it for the next three years. But what I had was not enough. During my junior year, while in Oxford ignoring my weird fellow study-abroad students and avoiding seeming too eager to make friends with the students from the United Kingdom by remaining aloof, I took refuge in my usual place—schoolwork. I became very lonely, and that loneliness, along with life after Jewell looming ahead, forced me to confront my mistakes of the past three years and try to reform myself.

This year, I finally learned my lesson and decided to act differently. I have at times—wonder of wonders, for me at least—set aside work in order to socialize. I have made new friends. I have been spontaneous. I have put myself out there.
I know that I am not alone in this struggle. Each of us has those fears he or she dares not face, whether they be talking in class, entering social situations, or riding a bike. But something I’ve learned over the course of my three-and-a-half years at Jewell is that normally, fears are exaggerated, and we really would be fine if we risked embarrassment. On the other hand, if our fear is justified, we can still afford a few broken bones. Most importantly, I have discovered that the pain and disappointment of living in fear is worse than anything you will otherwise suffer. To quote the great modern lyricist Sara Bareilles, “I just wanna see you be brave.”

Maria Rucker
February 5,

This January, I had the privilege of traveling to Honduras to participate in a Village Partners Project service trip. The country was beautiful, the people were delightful, and I learned many lessons. Through reflection, I know this experience has helped me to examine who I am and how I want to be active in the world.

Over the past three years, I’ve participated in a variety of experiences that helped me learn and grow. With each new challenge, I found things that I enjoyed doing, but couldn’t see myself committing to long term. Experiences like the trip to Honduras cause me to think about what makes me who I am and what direction I want my life to go. These experiences bring tough questions to the surface. Why am I a privileged white female? Why do I attend William Jewell College? Why do I get to live so comfortably - while in the village Matagua in Honduras there is a family of sixteen living in a two room house with no bathroom?

Galatians 5:13-14 says, “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

I believe one of my fundamental purposes is to show love to others through service. I need to use the skills and opportunities that I have to continue to learn while using my privileges to help other people. In Honduras, not only did I get to serve, but I learned about responsible ways of serving that prioritize building relationships, providing education, and serving in sustainable ways. Although most of us didn’t speak the same language, we were able to work together and develop relationships. The villagers were so authentic and kind. While we were there working with them, they wholeheartedly welcomed us into their homes and served us. Spending time with the villagers helped to remind me of the importance of vulnerable human relationships. Despite the distance between our physical homes, we are still neighbors, and we are meant to love and serve each other.

I hope to continue to work with the people in Honduras. It brought me true joy to get to know and help the people in Matagua. Each of us has the ability to serve; to use our knowledge and resources to make someone’s day, or life better. Service can be small acts of kindness throughout the day, or it can be a lengthy project.

Martin Luther King Jr. once preached, “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve… You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of relativity to serve… You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant.”
How will we choose to show love? How will we choose to serve?
(MLKJ sermon “The Drum Major Instinct”)

Ed Chasteen
January 22,

Red and Yellow, Black, Brown and White
Christian, Buddhist and Jew
Hindu, Baha'i and Muslim too
All are precious in our sight
Until we get to know each other, who's right is the wrong question

We are the HateBusters. This is our motto. We started as a class project here at William Jewell College 26 years ago. The state of Louisiana had just elected a member of the KKK to their state legislature, and the governor invited us to come help the state redeem itself. Word got out about who we are and what we do. We began to be invited by governors, mayors, colleges, schools, prisons and citizens.

We help people hurt by hate. We go to court with them, hire a lawyer, raise money, write love letters, hold press conferences, and prayer meetings. We never say no when asked to help. We never charge for helping. We work for free.

We have no dues and no meetings. Just work to do. We are all volunteers. We keep in touch by email. We give away membership cards. No one is born hating. Everybody is a natural born hate buster. If you don't want to be one of us, send us your name. We'll take you off the list. Otherwise you’re one of us.

We teach our book: How To Like People Who Are not Like You. We long to become World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe. We invite everyone to the Human Family Reunion, where folks of all colors, creeds and cultures bring a dish of their favorite food for a shared meal, where we eat one another's food and hear one another's stories. Our SOLE and SOUL agenda: To begin to become friends.

As you entered this room this morning you were given four cards.* One is your HateBusters membership card. To activate your membership, send an email to the address on the card. The other three cards are your How To Like People cards.

Card #1 is blue and tells you how to like yourself. Card #2 is purple and explains how to like your family and friends. Card #3 is yellow and tells how to like people who are not like you.

Put into practice, these three cards will move us toward our goal of becoming World Class Persons, able to go anyplace at anytime and talk to anyone about anything and feel safe.

That’s the road HateBusters have chosen. We invite each of you to come with us. Join us and we all will win. Win a world of peace, power, purpose and joy. The World as it SHOULD be.

*You may also get the four cards at William Jewell College Office of Justice and Sustainability; at Ginger Sue's, 2 W. Kansas; at La Tienda Chiquita, 121 W. Kansas, at Liberty Tribune, 104 N. Main, and at Biscari Brothers Bicycles, 884 S. 291.

Thomas Howell
December 4, 2013

There are many ways to appreciate Advent. This, I suppose, is mine. Each Christmas I return to my ancestral home in Louisiana. My church there celebrates Advent with a unique event called “Pilgrimage to Bethlehem.” Instead of your standard Christmas pageant or living nativity, it is an interactive drama set in 1st century Bethlehem.  Because it requires at least 18 months of preparation, Pilgrimage is not held every year.  This December again, truckloads of sand have been shoveled onto the floor of the parking lot and the walls of Bethlehem have gone up.  For some 20 hours over a 4-day period, church members young and old will don costumes to recreate the ancient city. It is both fun and deeply moving.

Although I originally volunteered to be an over-educated parking lot attendant, the director talked me into a speaking part. “Abraham of Jericho,” she said, “is cynical and pessimistic. Howell, it is a role you were born to play.” My fellow Abrahams and I take turns guiding visitors through Bethlehem as a forty-minute story is played out around us.  Each small group encounters crowds of despised lepers, sneering Pharisees, brutal Roman soldiers, and self-serving tax collectors as well as ordinary folks like fruit sellers, innkeepers, potters, fish sellers, and bakers.  There are ducks, donkeys, cows, and sheep to create authentic sounds--and smells. Dancing, joking, and arguments punctuate conversations, and excited shepherds whisper wild tales about a baby born in a stable at the edge of town.  This Bethlehem story focuses on a hungry orphan who is first seen stealing fruit.  It ends with the skeptical Abraham and his group of pilgrims at the manger.  There they see the little thief come to recognize that he is in the presence of a miracle. He signifies the change in his life by giving his stolen fruit to a needy leper.  When I first participated I suddenly realized there was another sort of miracle there—in me. Somehow I understood what the real Christ child brought.

Pilgrimage is a gift to the community.  There is no admission fee or "hard sell"; just the simple Christmas story and its impact on a single orphan. The entire church body truly feels like a close-knit, loving community after working closely for 18 months.  Since the first event in 1998, we speak about Pilgrimage in reverential tones because we are not referring just to the drama but to an experience that is inexplicable.  On the last night of that Pilgrimage, a spontaneous event established a tradition that continues today.  As the last visitor departed, participants in charge of the pre-tour variety show entered Bethlehem and became pilgrims.  When the group passed each stall, people left their stations and joined the special pilgrimage.  Eventually, standing in one great silent throng at the manger, each of us felt a renewal of faith. So, next week, I will go south to Bethlehem, there to go on pilgrimage once again, be cynical old Abraham, take groups through the sand and noise, stand before the manger, and  again find, somehow, the hope of the world. It is my Christmas wish for all of you that you will find your pilgrimage, your sort of miracle, and that, whatever your beliefs, this season will bring you a renewal of spirit and hope.

Darlene Bailey
November 13, 2013

Almost every day I spend a few minutes reflecting upon what I did a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago, sometimes even further back. I guess it is the part of me that is interested in history and what, why and how that which has occurred in my past makes me who I am today. I am fascinated with thinking about cause/result/significance. 

Ten years ago this month, I was almost three months into the most significant relationship of my life. I had been inspired by the words of two women: one famous, one not famous at all. Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.” The other is from the athletic department secretary at Wichita State, Marilyn.  As I visited with her just hours before she passed away, she said, “Now Darlene, don’t you never not do something you always thought you wanted to do.”

Their words, along with a great deal of soul searching, prayer and A LOT of paperwork, led me to the relationship I mentioned just a minute ago. In August of 2003, I became a parent. By November, just about this time, I had yet to see my child and was not sure when I would see him. I had an e-mail with a photo attached, something like you would see from, except the other person could not tell me about himself because he was three months old. It was beginning to feel like a blind date that I had committed to keeping forever. 

Fortunately, the blind date only lasted about five months.  I was able to travel to Guatemala in January to pick up my son Luke.  Once we made eye contact, I knew forever was going to be just fine.  

The decision to become a single parent was very significant for me and began a journey where my core beliefs and faith in God were both challenged and affirmed.  I learned to better understand diversity and inclusion because I had put myself in a place where I was thought to be “different.” My decision was not fully embraced by those who had very specific notions of the traditional two parent family with children who looked like them and the stereotypes associated with single people, not to mention a single parent by choice. 

It has been an incredible 10-year journey for me. Fortunately, much has happened in the past 10 years to challenge and change many fundamental beliefs of what it means to be a family. When personal  connections are established among those from differing backgrounds or family units, the reasons for believing one way is better than another disappears over time.

I am so grateful for Luke and that we are so welcomed as part of the Jewell community. I continue to be in awe of the journey and how it has enriched me spiritually and intellectually. 

To combine the words of two women I truly admire, I urge all of us to do the things we have always wanted to do and think we cannot do….because we are blessed to live in a country where we can!

James Milam
November 6, 2013

As we enter the month of November, the trees have already peaked in vibrant color and the brisk temperatures are turning much colder, reminding us to take a break from the stresses of everyday life to acknowledge and give thanks for the many blessings in our lives.

The Thanksgiving season is about gratitude for traditions, sharing, and sacrifice. Tradition is the bridge that brings us all together. It serves as a topic that we all find peace. The thoughts of families gathering around a delicious meal celebrating the unity between new life and the wisdom of old life is a solemn reminder of the important things to be thankful for. This season is a time of sharing new milestones of life, and to reignite our spiritual lives by exchanging stories of blessings with those closest to us. It is in these stories of witness that we may know the blessings of our Lord and find the very foundation of life, liberty, and happiness.

I am thankful for the many blessings of: life, a loving family, meaningful friendships, education, opportunity, and spirituality. Above all I am thankful for the sacrifice made by God our father for sending his son Jesus Christ to die for our sins so that we may be forgiven and have eternal life. I hope that this can assist each and every one of you to answer the question, “What are you thankful for?” in a much deeper, personal, and meaningful way.

In the coming days on November 11, we, the United States of America celebrate Veterans’ Day. On this day, we are reminded to be thankful for sacrifice. It is the sacrifices of the brave men and women who have defended and are defending this country, that we may have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Some of our nations military members sacrificed seeing their children grow up, their health, or physical limbs. However, we must never forget those who paid the ultimate price. John 15:13 states, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The American Veteran is forever a symbol of heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, and freedom.

On November 11, 1918, the fighting in World War I stopped when an armistice, between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” President Wilson proclaimed Veterans day November 11, 1919 with these words, “To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride for the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of all nations…”

Erin Christiansen
October 30, 2013

C. S. Lewis said, “Mere change is not growth. Growth is the synthesis of change and continuity, and where there is no continuity there is no growth.” Growing up, children follow the example of those who surround them. Through human nature, we are almost programed to have the same worldview as our parents. We practice the religion and pass along traditions that have been in our family for as long as we remember. I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, but if we always follow what others tell us to do….not much room is left for exploration and growth.   

Jewell aims to teach its students to think critically and always question the norms. Without new thoughts and new ideas, our world becomes stagnant. We need to take this idea and apply it to our spiritual lives.

We can’t be afraid of change and what we see as different. We have to take opportunities that will challenge us. Having a closed mind to other’s beliefs and practices is a sign of complacency. On this campus alone, we have multiple opportunities to worship God. Each gathering brings a slightly different worship style, but we become closer to God through all of them.  Being exposed to different practices allows us to explore how others praise the Lord AND encourages us to learn more about our individual faith.

Likewise, in order to grow spiritually, we should surround ourselves with others who will promote that growth. We need to make a point to develop intentional friendships that align with God’s plan. Friendships are great for many reasons: having an accountability partner to keep us on top of things, having someone to talk to about life struggles, having someone to learn from, and having someone to share life’s joys with. 

Nonetheless, friends don’t have to be like you, act like you, and believe the same things as you. When I was doing a service project and studying abroad in Costa Rica this summer, I had some life-changing experiences. The people I was surrounded by were obviously very different from me, and they taught me a new way of life. I was teaching English to a group of teenage boys living at a boarding school. The majority of the boys weren’t religious, and my mentor, Fr. Numa said to me, “The boys don’t have to believe in God, because God believes in them.” This made me realize that that God’s plan encompasses so much more than I can imagine, and God expects us to learn from and grow through interactions with those who are different from us.

God has given everyone individual gifts to serve one another, and we should use these gifts to grow spiritually and deepen our relationship with God. Colossians 1:10 reads, “…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord; to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” We need to take opportunities to grow spiritually whether that be developing intentional friendships, using our gifts to serve others, or challenging ourselves to become more disciplined. We need to make it a point to grow spiritually. We cannot become stagnant in our faith. 

Ron Witzke
October 23, 2013

I grew up in the Valley of the Sun, but spent a fair amount of time in darkness. I delivered morning newspapers, waking before dawn and finishing before sunrise. Then, in 8th grade, I came under the spell of an eccentric, filthy rich, but slovenly dressed science teacher who collected and traded minerals, and was fond of bragging that he only taught school to pay his taxes. On weekends he would take me to old abandoned gold and copper mines digging for rare minerals. Exploring the mines meant ignoring the ‘No Trespassing’ signs, and spending hours underground, chiseling and hammering away in muted shadows, the tunnel walls lit only by our battery operated helmet lights. Roaming the mineshafts and pedaling on the dimly lit streets instilled in me a deep love of the desert's mysterious darkness and obscure beauty.

It’s tempting to think of this as nostalgic or sentimental, but I now realize that those hours spent in darkness are symbolic of my spiritual journey - a thirst for beauty and mystery. This longing was ignited this summer in NYC while enrolled in a seminary course. I was introduced to the relatively new academic field of theological aesthetics. Through the course readings and experiences I enriched my understanding of the concept of beauty – its myriad definitions and historical contexts. I learned of the disagreements between Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant theologians regarding the value of beauty in the lives of the faithful.

One class assignment was particularly memorable and revealed how my journey out of darkness into beauty and mystery continues to be mediated by light. I visited the Guggenheim Museum, which curated one of three nationwide installations by James Turrell. Turrell, who credits his Quaker roots as artistic inspiration, has spent his life exploring the properties of light and arguing that light itself is worthy of our serious contemplation.

The Guggenheim installation, a 79-foot ascending spiral, entitled Aten Reign, was simply breathtaking. Imagine peering into an oversize upside down, transparent vanilla swirl ice cream cone, which, over the course of approximately twenty minutes, the iridescently evolves through the entire color spectrum. The spiral mesmerizes one in a bath of color that is at once both sensuous and timeless - what one reviewer called a 'meditative spectacle.' At my appointed time, I joined several hundred patrons to experience Turrell's creation. Doing so allowed for a spiritual fine-tuning to the beauty and mystery of God.

In Psalm139, David declared, “…To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.” Perhaps the synthesis of darkness and light is a liminal space where beauty and mystery are best encountered. The beauty of a deep, pink rhodochrosite crystal, the purply-hued desert dawn, and Aten Reign confirm poet Denise Levertov’s insight in stanza one of her Hymns to Darkness -

                Beauty growls from the fertile dark.
                Don't disturb
                the glow. Shadows
                are not contrivances devised
                for your confusion. They grow         
                in subtle simplicity from the root,    

Kenya Mission Team
October 9, 2013

Jeremiah Sawdon
It is hard to put into words what I was feeling when it really set in that we would be going to Africa. I had never been out of the United States before and this was quite a leap. I know that we had all talked about what to expect, but nothing could really prepare us for this life-changing event. Within the first day we knew that this place was special. Never have I met a friendlier community. The things that we could learn from them were limitless. I knew this trip would change my views within the first 24 hours.

Blakelee Kimmis
Our first days in Kenya were spent planning a rural health camp with the nursing students at Daystar. In the beginning, nerves were high because we did not know what to expect. Little did we know how close we would become in three short days and how hard it would be to say goodbye. We teamed together to organize a health camp that proved to be a huge success. Many of the patients had never seen a doctor before. They were beyond thankful for the services, but little did they know, they made a lasting impact on us and gave us more than we could give them.

Taylor Waibel
After this clinic we spent two days volunteering at Tumaini Clinic in Korogocho Slum. This is a maternity clinic that provides medical care to women and children in the slum. There were many hardships in this clinic, but the workers are able to put their faith in God knowing he will provide for them. This is evident in the devotional every day before the clinic opens. We were privileged to be a part of this devotion one morning, it was very moving to see how deep their faith is and how much they rely on God in their lives.

Brianna Swift
Another place we visited was Beacon of Hope: an AIDS clinic where they provide medicine, training, and comfort for patients.  We went on a home visit with one of the nurses to Judy and Peter’s home, a couple who both have AIDS.  Judy was one of the strongest women I have ever met; her faith was undeniable.  She understood what was going to happen, but still trusted in the Lord, because, as she said, that was all she could do.  Her faith was truly the only thing to hold onto, and get her through the day.  And that was completely refreshing to see.

Aly Low
Before setting out on our Kenyan adventure, our group had expectations of gaining a broad expanse of cultural and health care knowledge. However, what we gained was not solely knowledge. We boarded the flight home with a renewed understanding that in the face of uncertainty or fear of the future, one always has faith. The families of rural Athi River, women and children of Korogocho Slum, and Judy and Peter all live out what Saint Augustine so eloquently wrote, and which one will never gain inside the confines of a classroom, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”

Lindsey Bokoch
October 2, 2013

Last fall, I took a class with Dr. Benz called "Christianity and Tyranny." To say the least, it changed my life. In that class, I learned something that has transformed how I view myself and others; I learned that a person cannot be limited to the label of "x." I don't know why we label people the way we do. Maybe it's the need to categorize in order to understand what's going on in the world, but I think it can be destructive if we limit a person to a label.

In Dr. Benz’s class, we talked about Martin Buber's work, "I and Thou." We discussed how by viewing a person as a label, we aren't seeing him or her as a whole person. Instead, we are seeing him or her as the root of our community’s problems. We are seeing him or her as an “it." By viewing a person as a "You," I think we can begin to see value in that person. I think that if we can begin to see past the "x," then we can see what's truly causing that person pain and maybe help him or her to become whole again. I think that in the process of viewing others in this way, we will begin to see value within ourselves. And then, as a community, we will be able to offer a fresh start to those who need it.

When thinking about community, I think that both Dr. Benz and Martin Buber hit the nail on its head: it starts with each of us. It starts with us getting past the "it" mentality that comes with labels and valuing others in our relationships. In theory, this a great concept, but it is even greater to see it actually lived out.

This past summer, I researched transitional programs that seek to empower teens in foster care. I discovered that the foster care system, like any system, creates a mentality within its participants that they should be taught to survive within a system, not thrive outside of it. Transitional programs don’t always focus on the whole person; they tend to focus on meeting legal obligations to rehabilitate the “foster kid”. Now, it’s not all a mess, there are people in this community that don’t objectify these kids. Currently, there is a movement growing in Kansas City. Soon, I get the opportunity to see people come together at a vision meeting to discuss starting an employment program that equips businesses to hire a teen for a few years. I can’t explain how incredible it is to see this lived out.

I know this may all sound very simple - it is, but I think getting past the “it” mentality is the hinge-point of us becoming a vibrant community. A people that truly fosters diversity, grace, and forgiveness. It’s not going to be easy, loving people never is, but I think it’s worth every ounce of effort we have.

Rev. Jeff Hon
September 25, 2013

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” - Ernest Hemmingway.  I wish I could have penned those words, but then again, I spent a great part of my early life believing the contrary. I probably always knew that our lives were interconnected with those around us, that we possessed the ability to touch others’ lives by simply living our own, and that if we could see the image of God in each person we met, we would want to change the way we interacted with the world. These sound really noble and I’m sure the world would be a better place if we all practiced them. But for me in my early days, such things were a way to wind up in the kingdom of God – a destination if you will. But I later learned that living these virtues is what really mattered.

After my time at Jewell nearly 30 years ago, I started living and working and trying to do good out in the world – a world filled with good people who didn’t necessarily share my same life perspective.

From that point on, it became clear that the world was changing rapidly and in doing so, leaving the Church behind. Doing a particular thing or acting a certain way to receive a final reward with the Creator was simply not a good enough motivator anymore. After years of being out of school, I began my graduate work in seminary not because of my need to bring people back in to the Church, but my conviction to take God out into the world. It was doing what I knew to be right, only this time it was about the journey and not the destination.

This all came back to me several weeks ago as I talked with Dr. Pratt about this chapel service and how so many things were changing around us. Here we were sitting in the new PLC, a building created for learning yet with a noticeable absence of classroom space, fireplaces and plasma screens all over, and a snack bar. Sort of reminds me of our churches and synagogues and mosques that are having to reimagine themselves in a society that no longer looks the same. There aren’t so many big assembly spaces needed anymore. We are starting to figure out that people don’t belong to a faith community as just a social gathering place these days. Folks want to be part of something that changes the world. Such ponderings aren’t comfortable for preachers, but the funny thing is that I enjoy thinking about it. And I have Jewell to thank for it. 

Even in the glory days when dorms were either for women or men, when women’s dorms were only open two evenings per week, and when a trip down the hill to the American Legion Hall to quench one’s thirst was kept strictly on the down low, there was still much to learn on this journey. Whether it was through exposure to different cultures, different thoughts on various subjects, or different theological views, Jewell opened my eyes and my mind to prepare me for this amazing changing world. I am better for it and I’m sure you are going to be, as well. So while it’s good to have something to journey toward, it’s even better to be on the journey, because that is what really matters in the end.    

Kendall Stewart
September 18, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase”. When it comes to God’s will and call in peoples life’s I think the majority of us want to see the whole staircase. I know that this was my experience this summer.

In December of my sophomore year, I began freaking out because my Journey grant application was due and I had no idea what to use the money towards. After frantically searching the internet I came across a program that would allow me to do medical missions in the Philippines. I applied to use my grant towards this because I’m a nursing major, have enjoyed some other mission type work I have done to other countries and haven’t ever been to Asia. I turned in my application and anxiously waited to hear if I was approved. 

I was approved but didn’t get the complete funds necessary to travel for 8 weeks. Therefore, I began to look for other grant opportunities. The Pritchard grant fell into my lap and I applied for it in the fall of my junior year. Life got busy and I forgot about it. I assumed I wouldn’t actually get to go because I didn’t have the funds and I figured several people would be applying for the Pritchard Grant. A few months later, I got an email saying I was receiving the Pritchard grant to travel for medical missions. In that moment I thought I could see all aspects of the trip and knew how everything was going to work out. Obviously God was calling me to go.

However, time and time again over the weeks prior to my trip and had to keep wondering if this is what God really wanted. The job I was working, told me they wouldn’t give me a leave of absence so if I went overseas, I would have to quit. A family member became ill and was in need of people to support her. My two adopted siblings were supposed to be arriving over the summer. Every time something was thrown at me I had to decide. Am I really supposed to go or are these all God’s way of saying this isn’t My will?

Well, I never got a straight answer to this. I still wonder what would have happened if I hadn’t gone this summer.  Was what I did actually God’s will? I don’t know, but I do know that I served a purpose in the Philippines. I learned so much about building relationships with people and showing others that they are valued. I fell in love with a beautiful country that has a unique culture. I learned to trust God always even when I don’t see the full staircase and I face obstacles. I wouldn’t have been able to have the experience I did if I hadn’t been willing to take the first step of faith. Therefore, I want to know, are you willing to answer God’s call in your life even if you can’t see the full staircase?

Mark Walters
September 11, 2013

The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr has said that “religious energy is in the dark questions, seldom in the answers.”  And that “we must learn to stay with the pain of life, without answers, without conclusions, and some days without meaning. That is the path, the perilous dark path of true prayer.”

In these dark questions, these dark, liminal spaces, Rohr believes, we relinquish control and ready ourselves for transformation.  And indeed there seems increasing neurophysiological evidence, to bolster the centuries of religious and pagan confession, that to embrace suffering as bound with joy, an aspect of our living, to give ourselves up to such mystery, the perilous path, is as healthy as it is humbling, is healthy in its humbling, and our consequent realization that we all suffer, we all grieve, and so we need and might heal one another.    

When on September 11, 2001 terrorists high-jacked four passenger planes, flying two of them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and the third into the Pentagon, and the fourth, as passengers attempted to storm the cabin, into a Pennsylvania field, killing, ultimately, more than 3,000 people, I was, like millions of others across the world who watched these images, struck by the depth of my own bewilderment and sorrow, and by the courage and compassion of those who rushed toward wreckage, the first responders who were willing to risk death so that strangers might live.

Who does such a thing? Who, by training or instinct, willingly sacrifices oneself for the good of an unknown other? Those of us not there would like to imagine that we might, and in our imagining reveal the possibility that we would, that we could. There seems something within us—borne from the evolution of particular brain structures, or the instinctive sense of the material and spiritual connection among all organisms—that responds to the suffering of others, that compels the swell and slide of the heart before another’s anguish, and that leads us to act, or at least to the desire to act, in order to relieve it. And in this compulsion on and following 9/11, the United States was joined by much of the rest of the world, the collective empathetic response enlarging and enlivening our sense of community, our radical oneness. 

Like millions of others in those subsequent days of September, I felt too the desire for vengeance, the violent reckoning and righting of this wrong, an impulse arising from fear and anger, I now know, knew even then, rather than love, and so much easier than love, because of its, revenge’s, promise of restored order, and so control. But if we believe that compassion is, so to speak, in our blood, and our shared grief the dark space wherein we are transformed and most deeply connected, then its attendant loss of control, our opening and offering of ourselves to others, is never solitary, but accompanied by those who will receive us.

As it surely has been for those who’ve prayed for or embraced the friends and families of all 9/11 victims, including many of those first responders, and the civilians and military personnel who’ve lost their lives or been wounded in subsequent and related violence, the numbers of whom, the suffering of whom, across a range of religious traditions and cultures and beliefs and stories, is incalculable.  Maybe too much for any one of us to bear. Indeed too much for any one of us.

Fear and hatred are constrictive, alienating impulses; individuals and communities draw inward on themselves, as if holding their breaths. Compassion and love are expansive and inclusive; individuals and communities inspired in the most literal senses--breathed into, filled with, inflamed with, spirit, the animating force of all that lives.

Tend to one other, be kind, seek peace.

Kelli Sontag
September 4, 2013

Remember those visual tests?  Where two different objects can be seen at once.  When I was young those things frustrated me, I could never see both objects; I could only see one.  Finally, at summer camp, our instructor showed us that if we focus on one point and if that didn't work, look at another point, until the other image comes into focus. I looked forever at different points… until finally instead of seeing a vase, I saw two people's faces.

During my time at Jewell I have learned a lot about looking at things different ways, a wide variety of world views, new thoughts and ideas, even religions.  As I was exposed to new ideas, I realized that while I don’t agree with everyone, who they are and what they believe is still beautiful. If we focus on one fixed point of different ideas, we may miss the beauty of the whole.  Confucius said, "Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it."  We must learn to expand our vision and see past the points that frustrate us and think on our own perspective. We need to use these new views to enlarge our picture, and allow new perspectives to change how we think, even what we believe.  Unfortunately, in our studies, our activities, and our relationships, we often overlook these confounding beauties that God has placed in plain sight for us to marvel in.
I have a ring with this inscription, "Live Simply."   It serves as a reminder not to overcomplicate the simplicity of life that God offers each of us.

We all have our own journey, and we have each had unique and beautiful experiences.   Some of us have traveled to places that we imagined we would only visit in our dreams. Some of us have challenged ourselves to try new things; and all of us have learned more about ourselves, our faith, and what God is calling us to do with our lives. 

Life at Jewell goes by so fast, today I am challenging us all - to slow down and take time to enjoy the simple pleasures; a stroll around campus, sled down Browning Bowl, late night food runs, the sound of laughter, or just seeing a friendly face; that God has placed in each of our lives. With an open mind and heart, these simple joys will stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Our journey at Jewell is brief, the blink of an eye, but the perspectives we gain, the experiences we share, the personal growth and every God given moment; these moments of pure joy will be carried with us wherever life takes us. We can never tire of seeking those different perspectives that hide in every God given moment.  Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."  We may not see what's to come, but if we turn our eyes onto the simple joys God has given us in our daily walk with Him, our journey will be filled with wonder and beauty.  Our journey is just beginning.

August 28, 2013

Fifty- years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King stood before 250-thousand people in Washington, D.C. to deliver a 17-minute speech that changed this country.  

Today, I proudly stand before you as a 1979 graduate of this institution; and a member of the William Jewell Board of Trustees to deliver my thoughts in 500 words.

A. Philip Randolph, a leader in the African American civil rights movement and director of the March on Washington, said the goal of the 1963 march was to “arouse the conscious of the nation.”  My goal, is to “arouse the conscious” of you who are in attendance today.

In the 1950’s, black students were denied the right to attend William Jewell. But laws and the attitudes of people changed over the years.

In 1966, my cousin John became the second black student to graduate from Jewell. In 1969, another cousin A.J. received his degree from Jewell, and in 2011, my niece Michelle. Today, my daughter Simone, a sophomore, continues the family legacy.

A proud legacy committed to public service and civil rights.  My 92-year old father, Sam Houston, marched with Dr. King in Memphis in 1968, weeks before Dr. King was assassinated.  My dad was the first black elected official in Clay County.  While he never attended Jewell, in 1975 he was presented the Outstanding Liberty Citizen Award by then president of the college, Dr. Thomas S. Field on this very stage. My dad worked tirelessly for civil rights.

We’ve come a long way in the past 50 years, but there is more work to do.

Racism and discrimination still exists in this country today.  How do you respond when you see injustice?  Do you think, “I don’t want to get involved?” Do you say, “It’s someone else’s responsibility to speak up?”

Well, it is YOUR responsibility.  You don’t have to carry picket signs or hold a sit-in you merely need to Stand up. Speak out. Start Now. Laws can be passed, but it’s the action and the hearts of people that will bring about change.  I truly believe your generation can and will make the difference.

Currently, in St. Louis, a Missouri Supreme Court decision is allowing students in two predominately African American school districts to transfer to suburban, predominately white school districts. Many parents in the suburban districts have fought for the black students NOT to be admitted. At suburban Francis Howell High, 150 student mentors gathered to help ease the new students' transition. The senior class president called the negative reaction by some parents disappointing and vowed to join his local classmates in making the newcomers feel welcome.

"We were portrayed as stereotypical, narrow-minded Midwest town," he said. "Really, we're much more than that."

I challenge you to be much more than that.  Stand Up – Speak Out – Start Now.

The 1963 March on Washington was an historical moment. Fifty years later, you can be part of a new movement.

My dream – that the movement begins today; and it begins with each of you!

Jeff Buscher
August 21, 2013

As a Jewell student I spent summers guiding backpacking trips. One foggy morning in southern Chile, we approached the summit of an active volcano called Villaricca – whose most recent eruption was 1971. This was my first ascent, and I was guiding a group to a place I’d never been, in dense fog.  We trekked on small volcanic granules, like walking on “Coco Krispies.” Did I mention it was very foggy?        

Thankfully, rangers had placed small rock piles called “Cairns” along the route at intervals as the trail circled the volcanic cone. Volcanic rock does not compress into what one might consider a distinguishable trail, so you can understand my relief and comfort, each time a cairn emerged from the fog.

Walk with me for a while this morning and consider how these silent sentinels might enhance your journey.

Whatever our journey, it’s comforting to know that we are headed the right direction. Cairns point the way. In coastal British Columbia where my son guided trips, they would start at sea level and often climb 4-5000 feet on the first day of the hike. The start of a new adventure is often the most challenging part of the journey. When we are putting forth that kind of effort, a marker along the trail not only assures us that we are on the right path, it also gives us a sense of accomplishment - a reminder we are moving ever closer to our goal.

Humans have built Cairns along their paths for literally ages. In Hebrew history the prophet Samuel commemorated a time when God helped the people of Israel by taking “stones and setting them between Mizpah and Shen, naming the altar Ebenezer.”           I will never forget the night spent on the top of Uncompahgre, one of Colorado’s highest peaks. We summited as a group, holding hands and singing the Doxology. Oswald Chambers says that summits are not meant to teach us something, rather, they are meant to make us something. Mountaintop experiences carry us through the average days that fill our lives.

Life is a journey between summits and valleys.  The apostle Peter during Jesus’ transfiguration, said, “Master, I will pitch tents for each of us, so that we may linger here for awhile.” It was not to be.  Jesus led James, John and Peter down from the summit, and back into the valley, back to the demands of day-to-day life.            

On a remote trail in Eastern Tennessee, our group happened upon a moonshine still. The area was heavily wooded, we were miles from the nearest road, and our young trekkers were very curious about our discovery. As the leader, living in the hope of hiking another day, I suggested we move on. As we trudged past the tin and copper tubing I spotted a notch on a tree that confirmed we were bearing the right direction.

On your journey, pay attention to the markers, great and small, that remind you where you are headed.  Journey on…





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