The Transfiguring Magic of Ritual

The chaplain invited me to give the sermon at our University’s weekly chapel service the Sunday before Lent. This is Transfiguration Sunday in many Christian traditions, where the Gospel reading is Matthew 17:1-9, which recounts an episode where the disciples see Jesus transfigured in divine glory on a mountain. Even though I am not a Christian, it proved to be a great opportunity for reflecting on vocation and how we can collectively examine shared patterns of meaning and purpose in a pluralistic society, where many of us strongly disagree about the ultimate sources of meaning and purpose.

Continue reading

Transitions: A Powerful Time for Vocational Reflection

RedChairs
Welcome to summer

For academics, every summer contains an “eek!” moment right around the fourth of July. Suddenly one realizes that there are only five or six weeks left until the first faculty meetings of the new academic year.

Wait, didn’t we just sit through that long commencement ceremony?

One of the aspects of a life lived in school, to borrow Jane Tompkin’s felicitous memoir title, is almost constant motion. We, and our students, go through a lot of transitions. Consider, for example, the four or five years of the average student’s life cycle in college:

  • Leaving home
  • Moving into a dorm room, perhaps sharing a room for the first time,
  • Food always available, even Captain Crunch
  • The girlfriend or boyfriend left behind
  • The new girlfriend(s) or boyfriend(s)
  • Summer jobs
  • Part-time jobs on campus
  • Family members who divorce or get sick or die
  • Internships and/or study abroad
  • More roommates/new housing every year
  • Choosing (and often changing) majors
  • Graduating
  • Job seeking/applying to graduate school

These are just the most common and most obvious changes students navigate. Continue reading