From the Interim Pusey Minister
Over the holidays, Ben Shafer ’19, former chair of the Harvard Interfaith Forum and student leader in the Memorial Church, sent me a poem by Michael D. Higgins, the current president of Ireland. Reflecting on the journey of the Holy Family and the journeys of refugees in our own day, President Higgins wrote, “All journeys reveal/What we do in the shadow/Of each other.”
These are words to hold close to our hearts as we continue our engagement with the practice of pilgrimage in the spring semester. As we have learned over and over again as we have studied pilgrimage, made pilgrimages together, and accompanied each other through the joys and struggles of this year, a journey illuminates even the hidden connections between us and calls us to deepen our commitment to one another and to our common life.
In the coming semester, we will have many opportunities to continue on pilgrimage together.
In March and April, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, Lead Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta will return to campus as our William Belden Noble Lecturer to help us take stock of the journey we are on as a nation. Choosing as his theme “Bend the Arc Toward Justice: Challenges of this Moment and the Moral Meaning of America,” Dr. Warnock will speak on “Voter Suppression: An Assault on the Soul of our Democracy” on March 10, “Poverty: An Affront to our Covenant with One Another” on March 11, and “Climate Change: A Sermon from a Suffering Earth” on April 22. We hope you will join us for this urgent conversation.
Our pilgrimage reading group will continue meeting monthly to discuss books that help us explore the practice and its relation to our lives and to the life of the world. We’ll begin in February with the anonymous nineteenth-century Russian text, The Way of a Pilgrim, the story of a pilgrim who travels around Russia, seeking to understand what it means to pray without ceasing. In March, we will discuss Valeria Luiselli’s Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions, an exploration of the journeys of undocumented children seeking asylum in the United States. In April, we will turn to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Where Do We Go from Here? Chaos or Community for wisdom as we look beyond this year toward the future.
We will also continue making pilgrimages in the spring. We have an interior pilgrimage planned for early March and a pilgrimage to sacred sites on Harvard’s campus in early April and others may pop up on the calendar along the way. On Shrove Tuesday, following our annual pancake supper, we’ll have Pilgrimage Movie Night in the Buttrick Room, with a screening of Emilio Estevez’s film, “The Way,” the story of a transformative pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago, starring Martin Sheen.
Our beloved choirmaster, Edward Elwyn Jones, will be on a journey of his own this spring, serving as the visiting choirmaster of King’s College London during the first part of the semester. He will return following Spring Break in plenty of time to lead us through our pilgrimage through Holy Week and Easter with the Harvard University Choir. In the meantime, our assistant choirmaster, David von Behren, and our composer in residence, Carson Cooman, along with some wonderful guest choir directors, will work with the choir in Ed’s absence. There is much to look forward to musically this spring: special concerts and organ recitals as well as the weekly and daily gifts of our musicians’ contributions to our worship during Sunday Worship and Morning Prayers.
“All journeys reveal/What we do in the shadow/Of each other.” Join us as we continue to be challenged and shaped by the practice of pilgrimage, so that what we do in the shadow of each other is to cherish our shared humanity and to seek each other’s good.
Interim Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church of Harvard University
Susan Shallcross Swartz Professor of the Practice of Christian Studies, Harvard Divinity School