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Barton College Chaplain Offers Comfort and Encouragement to Campus Community

On Friday, our College Chaplain, David Finnegan-Hosey, shared this pastoral message with our campus community. We hope that it is also a message of comfort for our friends and broader community members during a time of uncertainty.

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” — Psalm 46

Dear Barton College Community,

Peace be with you. I am holding each and every one of you in prayer and compassionate attention during this time of uncertainty for our College, our nation, and our world.

As a community we may be experiencing a range of emotions and reactions, from fear and worry to disappointment to confusion to skepticism. Some of us have received difficult news about cancelled events or seasons. Some are facing technological challenges associated with the current situation. Some are worried about friends and relatives who are particularly vulnerable right now. Some are anxious about our own health needs.

I want to honor all of these varied feelings. You are allowed to feel (or not feel) what you are feeling (or not feeling) right now! Simultaneously, I encourage all of us — and I say this most of all to myself! — to try, as best we can, to operate from a place of discernment and care. I am reminded of the now-famous prayer originally penned by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

There are many things right now that we cannot control or change; but there are others we can. We can take the basic precautions suggested by the CDC and state officials, such as handwashing, avoiding large crowds, and using alternate greetings that don’t involve physical contact. We can be patient and kind with each other as we all enter into uncharted territory with temporarily suspended classes and distance learning. We can take particular care for the most vulnerable among us. And we can explore new ways of reaching out and checking in with each other.

In that spirit, next week I will begin holding regular online prayer times using the Zoom app. I will share more details of when and how to join these prayer times at the beginning of next week. You may also use my scheduling link to set up a time to talk, either in-person or remotely: https://chaplaindfh. youcanbook.me/.

For now, please know that during this time one of the best things we can do for each other is to take good care of ourselves. While social distancing might mean physical distance, it’s never been more important to affirm that we are all in this together.

If you are feeling understandably anxious during this time, allow me to suggest a brief prayer practice based on the Psalm I quoted at the beginning of this note.

First, ground yourself by placing your feet flat on the floor if you are able to, and placing your hands gently on your knees. Then, repeat this slowly and quietly to yourself:

Be still and know I am God.
Be still and know I am.
Be still and know.
Be still.
Be still.
Be still and know.
Be still and know I am.
Be still and know I am God.

Practices such as this can help still our racing thoughts and hearts, and discern what is most important for us to be doing and caring for right now.

Know, again, that you are being held in compassion today. And may you experience blessings of peace, assurance, and care during this challenging time.


Light and Life,
Chaplain David


P.S. — Looking for some meaningful, hands-free forms of greeting? The USC Interfaith Council has shared this video of students demonstrating sacred greetings from their traditions that can be done from a distance!

David Finnegan-Hosey, M.Div.
Barton College Chaplain and Director of Campus Ministries