Thomas V. Wolfe Words at the All University Gathering
I want you to feel this room. I want you to feel what it is like to be together at this moment in the history of our world, nation, and university. I want you to feel what it is like to be in a room with this many people who have feelings similar to yours. But more than anything, I want you to feel what it is like to care so deeply about something that you could not have not come here, today….
This morning, our experience of the world changed forever. The tragedies of this day have left us in shock and fear and in a chaos of other emotions. We may feel more vulnerable. We may feel that what we once thought we controlled is now beyond our control. No one is left unaffected. It is important that we are here. It is important that we are here, together. In these moments we draw strength from each other and the whole community serves to sustain and support each individual.
At this all university gathering, we will acknowledge our thoughts and feelings. We will begin to account for their impact on us. Before we can understand or comprehend the scope of this day, we simply present ourselves in this place as we are. It is a good thing.
So this gathering is about finding others with whom we can share. It is a time to pause, reflect, and find ourselves again. It is a time to hear readings that contain centering wisdom that have been uttered at other critical times in history and from which other generations have found strength. In this place we will share these words, prayers, and the wisdom from our global community. May we know, from having been together, that through it all, the center holds.
Be present to each other at this moment. Let us begin this gathering in a time of respectful silence. Let us be in prayer, mediation, and reflection.
We have begun a journey, together. The news that will be contained in the days to come will challenge us and cause us to question what is happening in the world around us. We will have difficult feelings. We will find ourselves confused and disoriented. The images before our eyes will be difficult to comprehend. Some of us may face deeply personal loss. We may wonder if the world is falling apart.
If those times come, I want you to do two things. First, remember this moment. Remember what it felt like to be in this room united to so many people. Second, I want you to ask yourself, “What is real?” For in the midst of all of the brokenness we have this memory and we have the claim that love, community, hope, and peace are all intact and continue to be a powerful reality.
Go from this place in that reality. Reach out to each other in the hours, days, and weeks to come. Read each other’s faces and ask those around you how they are doing. Extend love and peace to all you encounter.
Go well. Live well. Offer peace and hope to each other.