Happy New Year - 2023

Happy New Year, Palmer Trinity Falcons! 
2022 is over and done, and 2023 is underway. 
New Opportunities...
New Horizons...
New Challenges are yours for the taking!
As we prepare for the New Year, make our Resolutions, and launch forward, let me first say, Thank you, for an outstanding First Semester — a great Restart, if you will…I truly appreciate all you have done to set such a positive tone for our Year, and I am eager to keep our good momentum going…Thank you.

Let me also ask you to pause, reflect, and take a brief moment to consider the following statement I came across recently, from the noted spiritual leader, and monk, Thomas Merton:

   Love is our true destiny.
   We do not find the meaning
   of life by ourselves alone —
   we find it with another. 

Love is our true destiny.
What does that mean?

Love is our true destiny.

Certainly, for me, this statement resonated strongly, as I happened upon it just a week after my father’s recent passing, on December 2nd – a month ago, nearly to the date. I had just returned from my fifth trip (in seven weeks, nonetheless), to my hometown of Nashville, and was heading to my office, with the plan of catching up on mail, and getting organized after having been gone a full week and having just held my father’s funeral two days prior, on December 10th. 
As you can imagine, as I entered the office, I was feeling a range of emotions…I was physically, mentally, and emotionally drained– I had spent a very busy week in Nashville prior, working through many of the details for the funeral, including the writing of my Eulogy for Dad, and I had worked sensitively through a number of family moments and obligations …And, now, I was returning to School, feeling quite behind, knowing that I had a LOT of stuff to catch up on, and a lot of work ahead of me, particularly if I wanted to close out the First Semester in good form.

Yes, I was feeling pretty overwhelmed!

However, upon entering my office, I spotted a slew of floral arrangements, beautiful orchids, homemade goodies, and treats on my meeting table... And, sitting proudly, this giant letter from the Senior Class…What a moment! 
Moreover, my desk was overflowing with Christmas gifts, tokens of kindness, and stacks of personal, handwritten cards…I was blown away! I felt immense gratitude…I was reminded once again, of just what kind of Community I have the privilege of serving…My thoughts went immediately to one of my favorite quotations, one I have shared often with you:

   We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are
   conscious of our treasures.
                               ---Thornton Wilder, noted playwright

Yes, I surely felt alive at that moment, on that late, quiet Monday afternoon…A day, ironically, in which we would have celebrated my father’s 90th birthday…A day, which quite honestly, I was feeling a bit sorry for myself…A day that turned out to be such a beautiful and wonderful day…A day in which YOU provided the much-needed and appreciated boost for me…A day I won’t forget soon.

And, so, as I began to sort through all the various items on my desk, that feeling of gratitude only grew.
As I combed through all that mail, I stumbled upon that profound statement from Thomas Merton, which I share again with you:
   Love is our true destiny.
   We do not find the meaning
   of life by ourselves alone —
   we find it with another. 

   Love is our true destiny.

I was reminded, too, over this last month, of the genuine care and compassion shown by you, from the countless emails, voicemails, and text messages that had piled up over those ten days between Dad’s passing on December 2nd, and my return to campus on December 12th.  I was truly moved by the response from so many, and I spent a great deal of time while in Nashville, and over the Break, simply trying to respond as quickly and thoughtfully as I could to all of you who so kindly reached out to me.  Those loving gestures even inspired me to wake up extra early in my hotel room just days before Dad’s funeral, and write a “Thank You” message that was sent by the School as a Formal Holiday Missive.
Perhaps it was meant to be my reading of such a powerful statement on that day.  Whether it was divine intervention or simply coincidence, it makes no matter to me.
What I do know, however, is that once again, your kindness—your support—your love made the difference, helping me to walk through a challenging time personally, knowing that I was being cared for by this amazing Community.

Love is our true destiny.
Yes, I am certainly conscious of my “treasures”, and I believe it is the Palmer Trinity “Spirit” at work—that undeniable, ever-evolving, nurturing, and all-powerful Spirit…It is each of YOU. It is all of US, working together and finding ways to serve; to go beyond ourselves; to LEAD WITH LOVE.

As we begin the New Year and set our Goals, I ask each of you to consider placing this concept at the “top of your List”, so to speak.
I ask each of you to consider just how we continue to LEAD WITH LOVE, with the understanding that if we adhere to Mr. Merton’s concept of Love being our “true destiny”, then we must move forward, with our commitment to Love as a genuine priority.  Merton goes on to add to his idea, stating that,
   Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not
   they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's
   business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will
   render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy.

It is our job to love others…
It is our responsibility—our privilege—I might add, to love others.

Another great spiritual leader, His Holiness, the Dalai Lama reminds us, 

   Love, compassion, and tolerance are necessities, not luxuries.
   Without them, humanity cannot survive…The clear proof of a
   person’s love of God is if that person genuinely shows love to
   fellow human beings. 
Love builds Community, too, I believe…
Love is the “glue” that binds us together…
A force so strong that it can overcome any challenge; yet, it is a force that must be constantly cared for, nurtured, and protected…
At Palmer Trinity, we are committed to this idea…
This creation of a loving Community…
We are always working to strengthen our bonds…
To create a lasting framework that places the highest value on kindness, compassion, integrity, and Love.

Just as you have shown me so clearly in this last month,
   Only love heals, makes whole, takes us beyond ourselves…
   Love gets us There, lets us know Who speaks.
   —Marsha Sinetar, author, spiritualist
Love heals.
Love takes us beyond ourselves.
Love gets us There.
I couldn’t agree more!

Happy New Year, Falcons!
2023 is yours for the taking.
It’s going to be a fantastic year.
And, if you don’t believe me, at least listen to the legendary C.S. Lewis, famous author, philosopher, and creator of the Chronicles of Narnia series, who encourages us, that 
   There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

I sincerely hope as you take this first step today with the advent of a New Year and so many opportunities before you, you will move forward with confidence, with a sense of gratitude, and humble service.

Please remember, too, that Love is our Destiny.
Take the time to invest in others. 
Work to be a good friend…Kind, compassionate, and true.
Love one another.

Know that I am cheering for you, and I am proud to be on this journey with you.
I am here to help you in any way I can.
I’ll leave you with this Ancient Celtic Blessing:

   May God give us light to guide us,
   Courage to support us, 
   And love to unite us,
   Now and evermore.
Best wishes for the New Year! And, know, too, that I love you. Now, go out and 


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