[CollegeContemplative will feature Guest Bloggers from October 2013-February 2014. Welcome, Bart Everson!]
Hello and greetings. My name is Bart Everson, and it’s a privilege and a pleasure to be posting here at College Contemplative.
As a new author on this site, I thought it might be best to give you some idea of where I’m “coming from,” geographically and otherwise, as well as where I’m headed.
Welcome to Xavier
As I write these words I’m sitting in my office on the Xavier campus in the great city of New Orleans.
I think most readers will be at least vaguely familiar with our city, but less so with our school. No, we’re not affiliated with that school in Ohio. This is Xavier University of Louisiana.
Xavier University of Louisiana, founded by Saint Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, is Catholic and historically Black. The ultimate purpose of the University is to contribute to the promotion of a more just and humane society by preparing its students to assume roles of leadership and service in a global society. This preparation takes place in a diverse learning and teaching environment that incorporates all relevant educational means, including research and community service.
This is our mission. This is our context.
Some Recent Developments
We’re now in the sixth week of the fall semester, and so far it’s been shaping up to be a most interesting school year, one that is unique and quite different in its own peculiar way from any that I’ve experienced in my 14 years here — at least from my own personal perspective.
That’s because a tiny group has formed here. A small number of faculty and staff have been meeting regularly in the meditation room of the St. Katharine Drexel Chapel.
We come here to sit together in meditation, sharing the space, the air, the stillness and the silence. We also discuss teaching and learning in the context of our shared mission.
It provides a break, a respite from the encroaching stress and hectic pace of the semester. This is valuable in itself. But it also feels like something more. I would not hesitate to label our small group as a community of spiritual practice.
It’s powerful stuff. But it’s also subtle. It’s the essence of simplicity, yet also quite complex. Like silence itself, it’s paradoxically empty yet full of mystery.
How Did We Get Here?
It’s my hope and my plan, in the weeks ahead, to share with you here the story of how we got to this point. It’s a journey that is at once highly personal and inherently social.
For now I’ll leave you with a pair of quotations which define a couple key steps along this path.
the term spiritual emergency… is a play on words, suggesting both a crisis and an opportunity of rising to a new level of awareness, or “spiritual emergence.” (Grof & Grof, 1989)
Our colleges and universities need to encourage, foster, and assist our students, faculty, and administrators in finding their own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge. (Palmer & Zajonc, 2010)
In the the near future, I will describe my personal journey from spiritual emergency to visions of wholeness, and how this has unfolded at Xavier in the practice of faculty development.
Grof, S., & Grof, C. (1989). Spiritual emergency: when personal transformation becomes a crisis. Los Angeles; New York: Tarcher ; Distributed by St. Martin’s Press.
Palmer, P., & Zajonc, A. (2010). The heart of higher education : a call to renewal. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.