This past weekend I found myself at times transfixed by television and radio coverage of the various memorial services and remembrances of Senator John McCain. One clip that soon began to circulate on my social media was the moment that former President George W. Bush was slipping former First Lady Michelle Obama a piece of candy.  In some ways this single moment was an illustration of what much of the urging was by those that remembered Senator John McCain. It was an urging for us to see the humanity in one another no matter our political affiliation or other identities we choose to divide us.

This can be more and more challenging as the business of our lives can drive us into silos of communities. These silos where we engage with people that are affiliated and similar to us. These silos can be comfortable because we aren’t often challenged to think deeply or question why we do or think a certain way.

Universities and colleges aren’t immune to such silos. We can silo into our departments, colleges, student organizations, or even faith affiliation. The challenge with a silo way of life is that we miss out on much of the world that God created and calls us to be a part of.  

In Henri Nouwen’s book, Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith, he writes,

“We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another. There is so much separation and segregation: between black people and white people, between gay people and straight people, between young people and old people, between sick people and healthy people, between prisoners and free people, between Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and Christians, Protestants and Catholics, Greek Catholics and Latin Catholics.

There is a lot of road crossing to do. We are all very busy in our own circles. We have our own people to go to and our own affairs to take care of. But if we could cross the street once in a while and pay attention to what is happening on the other side, we might become neighbors.”

Throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ he crossed many roads to listen deeply and to reconcile people to community. To those that others had said were not worthy — from tax collectors, to widows, orphans, and those living with disease — he walked across the road and reached out. He saw them beyond just that one thing that society said defined them — and saw their full humanity and who God created them to be. Jesus calls us to love God but also says closely related is the command to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Luke 10:25-27)

Universities might not be immune to silos, but they are also equipped with more crosswalks for road crossings then most places. I hope that you find moments to take time to listen deeply to your neighbors in this place. And that as we continue to utilize the crosswalks we might get a glimpse into the community that God calls us into by being neighbors to one another.

Pastor Jim and I welcome the chance to listen deeply and hear about your story. Feel free to invite us to venture across the road by booking an appointment with either of us.

Deaconess Kristin

Sept. 5, 2018

Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Deaconess Kristin Lewis take turns writing weekly reflections. You can contact Deaconess Kristin here and Pastor Jim here

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