September 2015, Theme: Activate

Written by Hannah Mello
September 30, 2015

Join us this 2015-2016 academic year, as we take time each month to reflect on a theme as a learning community. Hear from faculty and staff in a personal reflection on the theme, as they consider how the concept applies to their life and work. See here for an overview of these themes, which will also be highlighted in each month's school e-newsletter.

The theme for our school community this September 2015 is "Activate." Starting down the road of graduate school toward meaningful work is a choice. We activate all elements of our being to take on the new.

Download (& save or print!) a PDF of this September calendar, SEPTEMBER-ACTIVATE-CALENDAR.

Dr. Mark Chung Hearn has written this month's personal reflection--speaking from from the heart about how he has considered the theme. Dr. Hearn serves as the school's Assistant Clinical Professor of Contextual Education and Ministry as well as Director of Contextual Education.


Personal Reflection on the Theme, Activate

By Mark Chung Hearn, PhD

To catalyze, energize, initiate, put into motion?these are words and actions that come to mind as I reflect on the concept of activate. The concept draws me to consider activating my thoughts, put into practice my theories, or this old adage of, I need to walk the talk.

I have not been much of a gardener in my life until recently. A desperate-looking lawn will do this to you! Dry patches and dead-not-hibernating grass will provide you with a moment of shameful pause, and then hopefully, as it did me, spur you to action! YouTube has become my friend, learning the ins and outs of reseeding a lawn--mowing what?s left, dethatching, aerating, checking the pH balance, composting, seeding, watering, and finally, waiting.

One can learn much about the word activate through gardening. Gardening is part technology and technique: aerate, pH balance, compost, seed, water, have the right tools and materials. All the research I have done explains systematically the method of restoring a lawn. There is a science to the process and yet, there is also part wonder and mystery, that which is unexplainable. I do not know what goes on underneath the surface from day to day. I can only guess as to the timing of the seed germinating. In this mystery, and on account of what my family and I have actively done, something exciting has been activated. Growth!

Now, in the third week since we first started the lawn-cultivation process, we are starting to see signs of life (see photo on the left, which is a snapshot from my cell phone)--little green sprouts that indicate that something indeed has been activated and is coming to fruition. It makes the giving of my whole self to this project?sweat, toil, and resources?that much more gratifying, because we have helped to restore something back to life.

As a Christian who practices theology, I?m committed to activating my whole being (?walking the talk?) if I am to make sense of faith. I find the words in James? letter in the New Testament of scripture particularly appealing. There is something to my faith, spirituality, and life vocation that calls me to act and put into motion my convictions. There would be something missing without it! Activate demands me to engage my intellect, emotions, and physicality. It requires me to ask tough questions and sit with difficult conversations. It entails caring for the homeless and poverty-stricken, praying?sometimes prostrate, listening to my emotions and body.

If you sense stagnation in your life, I encourage you to get out and activate! Feel the earth with your toes; touch a baby?s soft hands; feed the homeless; journal; sing; whistle. And as you do, may you find life-giving moments in ways different than before--the movement of Spirit activating again something new, much like the little sprouts of grass I see when I leave for the office every morning.