Beginning again: Baylor chaplain welcomes students

By Dr. Burt Burleson | Guest Columnist

And so, we begin again.

This is the way of things in our world… the planet spins and a new day dawns… things tilt and fall ushers in another school year… we leave one chapter of life to enter a new one. We’re always beginning again and though not “starting from scratch,” the canvas is often pretty clean.

Beginning again is the way God infuses grace into the universe and into our lives. Though our stories have predictable plots and themes, we’re never bound by them because the nature of… nature is that we can always start over. We always get “do-overs.”

And so, we begin again.

This is the way of things in any human story. Though there are so many frustrating limitations, there are infinite possibilities. Human beings can make choices and we can make an effort. We can plan a plan, dream a dream, risk a risk, see what needs to be seen. We can get rid of an old habit and create a new one. There is this capacity for intention, where we are made to “mean to.” We have a will that can be directed and changes things.

And so, we begin again.

But it’s never something we do alone. This, I think, is what the Psalmist gets at by saying, “God’s mercies are new each morning.” It’s not just that God seems to shake our lives like an Etch A Sketch artist and offer us a clean slate, it’s more like there’s a new gift, some new grace that is operative. It’s a new mercy and it wasn’t quite there in the same way the day before, so that when we step into a new day, a new semester, a new home, a new chapter… a new anything, when we step forward, we step into some merciful flow. There is an eternal yes to our yes when we choose to begin again. The Apostle Paul names this synchronicity when he writes that “all things are working together for those who love God and are called according to God’s purpose.” This creative, alchemical and redemptive interaction is what happens when we say yes to a life that is unfolding. Our willingness is met by God’s willingness.

And so, we begin again.

We all do, here in the fall semester at Baylor University in 2017. What do you want in this new beginning? Your desires are a part of this school year’s equation. What are you willing to do? Your willingness to direct your intention, to “mean to,” is going to matter. What seems to be unfolding in front of you? Can you perceive it? That’s often the fun part of beginning again. Be watching for something that seems to be served up just for you. Live each day assuming there might be some really wonderful surprise and ready to say, “well how ‘bout that.” It’s a wonderfully, magical universe, a holy and sacramental world surrounds us.

And so, we begin again.

Dr. Burt Burleson is the University Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life & Missions.

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