Transitions

By Rev. Dr. Ron Robinson ’78, Perkins-Prothro Chaplain & Professor of Religion

The word came to the Wofford community via a thoughtful letter from President Nayef Samhat: Classes for the remainder of the semester will be held remotely. After 10 days of not knowing, now we know. The decision was wise and well-considered, but it didn’t come easily.

Over the past week and a half, I have received texts and emails requesting that I do all I can to enable students to come back to campus. The overwhelming majority of these came from students. Like President Samhat said, Wofford is a place, but mostly, it’s people.

I think deep down we knew this course of action was inevitable, but we simply didn’t want to allow ourselves to embrace a spring without the companionship and relationships that mean so much.

Monday evening, March 16, proved to be the last evening on campus for most students. As I left my office shortly after 8 p.m., I noticed the stadium lights were on at the baseball field. I made my way over and saw players taking batting practice and shagging flies. It was as if they knew they

wouldn’t have the chance to do this again. Not with these same teammates. They knew that their season, with perhaps the most promise of any Wofford baseball season in memory, was not to be. They wanted to hold on just a little longer.

Transitions are difficult. Anytime we dream of a future one way, and then something happens to circumvent that dream, a grief process ensues. It happens with relationships, with sports, with academic and career aspirations, with cherished preconceived notions, with life. Inevitably the transition to a new future will come. But that transition is rarely easy. The folk who research these things tell us that we have to grieve the loss of our dream before we can let it go. Then comes a neutral, or liminal state.

Only then can we move into a new future and have a new dream. As we know, times of grieving may be accompanied by denial, sadness, anger, fear and an array of other emotions. We all do not experience the same emotionalresponses to transitions, nor do we experience them in any particular order. But they are there, and we must deal with them.

So, my word for this moment in time, so full of transitions and unknowns, is a simple word of encouragement to be kind to yourself. And be kind to others. We hurt because we care, because we love each other, and because we value the distinctive experience we have at Wofford.

This is a time of transition. A time for grief. A time to acknowledge dreams deferred. A time to just be. And out there yet to come, there are new dreams to be dreamed.

Deep peace dear friends.

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