Seeing Constellations rather than Stars

When it comes to BIPOC students, we have a tendency to celebrate individual stars rather than seeing the larger constellations of which they are a part. Patrick Reyes offers some suggestions for how we might better appreciate the beauty and wisdom of the communities and traditions which have formed our students. In his new book, The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive (Westminster/John Knox, 2021), Patrick offers new metaphors and a different way of thinking about how to help students cultivate a sense of purpose and empower their communities.

We talked with Patrick about his new book in a recent episode on the NetVUE podcast series, Callings: Conversations on College, Career, and a Life Well-Lived. The conversation weaves together anecdotes from his childhood in Salinas, California; his insights into how the culture of academia operates (and needs to change); and why he finds strength in the images and stories of his ancestors. How might things change if we began to think in terms of five generations behind us and before us? One of the unique aspects of Patrick’s book is the inclusion of reflection questions for the reader to pause and consider, encouraging subtle but perhaps necessary shifts in how we think about vocation and purpose.

Patrick speaks with loving reverence about what he learned from his grandmother, including the idea that vocation really is a “communal act.” It’s about ” being part of a longer ancestral tradition, being part of a community, and being a good ancestor.” He asks us to consider the seeds we are planting today for future generations to come.

Vocation, meaning and purpose really is a communal act. It’s about being part of a longer ancestral tradition, being part of a community, and being a good ancestor. What are the seeds we are planting today for future generations to come?


For a short audio clip from the conversation with Patrick Reyes, click here.

The Purpose Gap has been selected as the featured book for the 2022 NetVUE “Big Read,” a program supporting campus conversations inspired by discussion of a recent book on vocation. To learn more about this program, available to members of NetVUE, see the NetVUE website.

The podcast can also be accessed through Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, and other podcast platforms.

Hannah Schell was a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at Monmouth College in Illinois from 2001-2018. She is the author of “Commitment and Community: The Virtue of Loyalty and Vocational Discernment” in At this Time and In This Place: Vocation and Higher Education, ed. David S. Cunningham (Oxford University Press, 2015), and, more recently, “Loyalty in the Time of Catastrophe: Anthropocene Reflections” (co-written with Mark Larrimore). Currently the Online Community Coordinator and the editor of this blog, she is also a campus consultant for NetVUE. Click here to see other blog posts by Hannah.

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