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On Starting Over

December 2, 2008

Dear Members of Brooks College:

If you are anything like me, you likely see the end of the fall semester approaching and experience some ambivalence. On the one hand, the end is in sight—“hooray!” On the other hand, the end is in sight—“big trouble!”

Over against those extremes, in my more moderate times of reflection on the past semester, I recognize both accomplishments in which I have proper pride along with failures that I genuinely regret. A little self-critical consideration brings me to see plenty of ways in which I might have been a better teacher, scholar, friend, father, mentor, husband, and Christian. Such thoughts almost always cause me to look for an opportunity to make a fresh beginning, building on demonstrated strengths and remedying obvious deficiencies.

Because I expect that something along these lines holds for your circumstances as well as mine, I want to encourage you, in the midst of increasingly busy and perhaps impossibly demanding days, to pause for a few minutes and consider where you presently stand. In fifteen minutes of quiet reflection, you ought to be able to identify some things that have gone well during the past dozen weeks of the term, as well as other things that you wish you had handled differently.

Having done so, perhaps you can join me in making a new beginning, even in the waning days of the fall semester, that will bring us through finals week with renewed commitments to the priorities we share together in Brooks College.

In a related vein, let me remind you—here at the outset of Advent and the beginning of a new year in the Christian calendar—that our weekday services of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer offer regular opportunities to thank God for the blessings we enjoy and to seek the Lord’s help in our struggles. Indeed, I am unsure where I would be without the chance to “start over” again, by God’s mercy, every morning and evening. I’ll make another new beginning tonight at 10 p.m. in Robbins Chapel. Will you join me?

All the best,

henry signature

Douglas V. Henry, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy
Master, Brooks Residential College