“It Is I Who Must Begin”

August 26, 2010

Carole Spencer, newly arrived from the George Fox University outside Portland (OR) to be Associate Professor of Spirituality at the Earlham School of Religion delivered the message at this morning’s opening Convocation for ESR and Bethany Theological Seminary.  She wove her message out of reflections on John 15:1-9 and Vaclav Havel’s poem “It Is I Who Must Begin.”  She reminded us that Havel wrote this poem while imprisoned.  I’ll be carrying it around with me for a while:

It Is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin.
Once I begin, once I try —
here and now,
right where I am,
not excusing myself
by saying things
would be easier elsewhere,
without grand speeches and
ostentatious gestures,
but all the more persistently
— to live in harmony
with the “voice of Being,” as I
understand it within myself
— as soon as I begin that,
I suddenly discover,
to my surprise, that
I am neither the only one,
nor the first,
nor the most important one
to have set out
upon that road.

Whether all is really lost
or not depends entirely on
whether or not I am lost.

~ Vaclav Havel ~

(Teaching With Fire, ed. by S.M. Intrator and M. Scribner)

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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