Good Morning Valpo!

The rays of the sun crest over the trees and the windows of the Chapel are ablaze with amber light this morning. It is a new day. A new semester begins. To those returning to campus for another semester, welcome back home. Those of us left behind during the all-too-quiet summer are excited to see your return. To new students, staff and faculty, welcome to the “Vale of Paradise” and your new home.

As predictable as this morning’s sunrise, the energy on campus today is palpable. Old friends greet one another with hugs, kisses, fist bumps, and high fives. New friendships take tentative steps. The air fills with the buzz of storytelling—so many moments to share, so many experiences to relive in this community of learning.

Undoubtedly, there are plans to be made: plans for the day, plans for the year, plans for graduation and beyond. A host of questions abound, from, “Where is my 10 o’clock class?” to “How will I live out my calling in life?” Today, the first day, we spend our energy attending to matters of navigation and destination, from how to juggle through a bathroom full of students getting ready for classes at the same time, to charting the course for the rest of your life.

Today, as you make your plans and set your destinations, I encourage you to think, too, about the journey itself. Three thoughts come to mind this morning. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives,” was author and naturalist Annie Dillard’s point of view about plans and journeys. Consider the musings of noted engineer, futurist and systems theorist Buckminster Fuller, who concluded, “How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere else.”  American theologian Frederick Buechner summed matters this way, “I think of my life and the lives of everyone  . . . as not just journeys through time, but as sacred journeys.”

We at Valpo are blessed to be part of a sacred journey as members of a supportive, learning community, one that encourages people to consider all the journey’s dimensions, from intellectual to spiritual, from athletic to artistic, from leadership to service. Through both informal and formal mentoring and dialogue we help each other discover the next steps of our individual journey, recognizing, too, that the character and quality of the steps define us as much as the end itself.

When we focus on the journey, destinations become stepping stones to something greater; careers transform into vocations; and we open ourselves to possibilities we had never before entertained. We find ourselves headed toward where we needed to go, but, perhaps, never knew before.

Welcome, Valpo, to the next step in your journey.



Mark A. Heckler