Happy New Year! I hope that you and your families had a wonderful holiday and that students enjoyed a pleasant winter break. With the new semester well-underway, the campus is bustling again, and students and faculty are immersed in new texts, new equations, and new questions to evaluate.
We’ve had our share of difficult conversations on campus in recent months ranging from topics on racial diversity and inclusion to the challenges confronting the Catholic Church in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal. These – and other issues we face inside and outside the classroom – are often not easy conversations. They challenge us in ways that can make us uncomfortable and cause us to question all that has been familiar to us before. As our thinking expands, we then must imagine new possibilities and develop what is sometimes an uncertain path forward.
As difficult as this can be, I find consolation and inspiration in these moments. In a 1903 letter from the famous poet Rainer Maria Rilke to his protégé, Franz Xaver Kappus, published in Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke writes:
I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
I hope that our students, too, can learn to “love” and “live” the questions as they grow in knowledge and through their life experiences. I wish everyone a fulfilling semester, and as always, we are ready to assist in any way possible to help our students and families along the way.