Transcript of Baccalaureate
Good morning, everyone. Good morning. And welcome. I'm Harrison Blum, director of religious and spiritual life. And, you know, I start a lot of remarks saying it's truly wonderful. I'm so pleased. I, it is truly wonderful. I am so pleased to be with you all in person in Johnson Chapel again for this annual interfaith service to honor our graduates. It's been a few years since we've been able to gather in this way. So thank you for helping to make that true that we are here. We are here together in baccalaureate. We marked the religious and spiritual significance of graduation and transition into the next life phase. It's a time to say to our students, we love you. We celebrate you and we bless you just outta curiosity, any students in the room, I can't help, but ad lib any students in the room, have you had a staff or faculty member express love directly? Like I care about you, maybe they didn't use the word love or maybe they do. This is just my curiosity. We do love you. Okay. I see some nods. Yeah, we really, we want you to thrive. We're so glad you're here.
I believe in the blessing power of presence itself. So thank you each for contributing your presence to this community moment of sending forth into our graduating seniors. Thank you for blessing our community with your efforts, your sincerity, your warmth, your humanity. For these past several years, I will begin with a land acknowledgement created by the local Sojourner truth school for social change leadership. And I quote, we recognize that the land we live on and the river we organize around is known in different ways and called by other names by people native to them, the Nonotuck, Agawam, Pocomtuc, and more, we recognize the, that the extractive white supremacist mindset of our country's settler colonial inheritance has been and continues to be a cause of great harm. These acknowledgements inform our work as we recognize the need for the sake of the survival and the thriving of all to decolonize, our ways of being.
And sometimes I've read that and just left at that and moved on. But I'll say just a little more today a word on land acknowledgements. I'm hearing them more often at least here at Amherst. And while I embrace our need to reckon with that history, that harm it's starting to land a bit flat for me and that, that might just be my ears. But by that, I mean that while sincerely offered these words at least to me as a listener are starting to feel at least at risk of checking a box could be becoming procedural more than heartfelt. And one piece I really like that sometimes included and I've been hearing more is, is the invitation to learn more. I think that keeps it real. And it also names the limitations of saying a few sentences, so that invitation to learn more to not just acknowledge that the land's original inhabitants who they were, but to learn about them.
So in that spirit, I tried to learn more about this region's native tribes. And I'll share with you just two details. I learned about the Nipmuc nation. One of the tribes that lived throughout Southern new England, when the Europeans first arrived to this continent, the first piece, you know, actually meant to take this off, let me do that. We get used to these, we wear them when we don't mean to. We don't want wear them when we do mean to. Okay. The first piece of information is that the 2021 annual report of the Nipmuc nation sites, just $15,137.29 cents and ending assets. So a nation of people once sovereign now with just $15,000 in assets.
The second and more uplifting piece I'll share is the opening of their 22 page constitution, which begins in part, we, the people thankful to the creator for our preservation in order to preserve the heritage of our ancestors, promote justice and safeguard our interest, do ordained and establish this constitution of the Nipmuc nation. So at this baccalaureate gathering a time of giving, thanks to whatever we hold as source may. These themes of thanking creator, honoring ancestors and promoting justice hold us as well. And may we thus in turn honor, those who lived on these lands before us.
So moving forward, we will soon hear prayers, blessings, and reflections from a few senior students of various campus, religious groups reflections, perhaps on what resonated with or supported them in their journey. What's alive for them as they cross this threshold into the wider world. We'll also hear from religious and spiritual life advisors and musical selections from the Zumbyes. And I'll say more about our keynote speaker, Reverend Adam Lawrence Dyer, when I introduce him. So with that, I'm really pleased to welcome, and I really like this guy, I'm not just saying I'm pleased. I'm really pleased to welcome Buddhist advisor, Roshi John Bailes to the podium to call us into silence.
Thank you, Harrison. It's nice to be liked. <Laugh> So, welcome. Hello. I invite you into a deep silence, contemplating nothing at all, just being as we are. I'll ask you, please sit up in your pews or chairs with your feet firmly in contact with the floor, your weight, settled on your buttocks and sit bones, your shoulders directly above your pelvis and your hands palms down on your thighs, your chin in a slight bit, your eyes gently closed breathing through your nose. Just making contact with your breath, the physical sensation of breathing, and now take your right hand and place the Palm of your right hand on your diaphragm and bring your attention to your diaphragm. Feeling the rise and fall of the diaphragm. As you inhale and exhale, bring your entire awareness and attention to this portion of your body. Feeling deeply and gently the physical sensation of breathing, bringing your light of awareness to the physical sensation of breath. Settling, allow yourself to physically settle right here right now in this place. At this moment, whatever thoughts or feelings you are experiencing, just allow them do not try to push them away or make an effort to be calm, feel, and experience exactly how you are right now. Allow yourself to be here, feeling deeply the physical sensations of your body, your feet, your hands, your ears, your cheeks, your fingers.
We're going to stay right here for a short while, breathing with one another in silence breathing the same air, the same sky, breathing one another the walls, the trees, the squirrels in silence, our hearts, our heart deep in silence to know me is to breathe with me. To breathe with me is to know me, breathe with everything. [pause] [chiming] May all beings be happy and free from fear. Thank you very much. [pause]
Let us pray, almighty and gracious God. We ask that you continue to look with favor on these graduates as they complete one part of life and look forward with eagerness to their next chapter. Their time during their course of studies has been full of exploration expansion of the ways in which they view your creation and of opening themselves to the thoughts of others. In all these experiences, they have been challenged to gather information, develop their intellectual gifts and to expand their learning beyond the classroom. They have not let their growth in their spiritual traditions become stagnant, but have incorporated all. They have learned into a greater understanding of how you continue to work in the world. We thank their parents. First teachers of their children for their commitment and example. We commend their families for their support. We are grateful for the faculty who have urged these students to look beyond what they know and become more curious in their thinking, who guided them to examine problems in different ways and to understand approaches different from their own. We give thanks also for the administration who have provided support to these students through some very difficult times, working constantly to provide the quality of education and safe environment they needed
With fondness. We reflect on the gift that is their fellow students who enabled them to see firsthand, how others think. Young women and men who are now friends for a lifetime. We thank all of these and more for their caring and love for our students. As these graduates, move on to greater and more rewarding endeavors, leaders in their communities, grant them your blessing and remind them that you are with them. Always keep them in your love and grant them the consolation of your spirit. We ask all these things through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
I'm able to say excited when I had the opportunity to take this off
I am giving this speech in the stead of Jorge Rodriguez, who is a senior who graduated, who was not able to come for the celebration. I'm a junior myself. My name is Alfred
To begin this quick reflection on what I've learned spiritually at arm. I want to affirm what I've seen in my four years here. There are many struggles that we all personally care about and have been wrestling with for most of our lives, including mental health, from anxiety, depression, and even suicide, welcoming addictions, the degradation of the inherent dignity of women or men of workers, or of people of differing races or care for a common home in all this, I've seen a desire for something good belief that something is worth fighting for that there is a stake and this stake is high that our lives hold some weight in something greater than ourselves, that each of us desire something meaningful, a search for happiness. I want to affirm that spirit again. I want to affirm that where these desires are coming from is good, but now that all of us are moving on what I want to share most of all.
And to give you for you to remember is that over my four years here, I have received the joy of an encounter with the fulfillment of all those desires. I eagerly desire to share that with you today or better yet to share him. The fulfillment of these desires is not in another program or a concept or theory. The answer, the happiness you have sought for four years, or as long as you can remember is not something but someone. He has a name, a face and is a real person, Jesus of Nazareth in the Eucharist. If you don't know who he is, do not be afraid to take a curious risk and to get to know him by picking up your Bible and reading the gospels of his life, by knowing him, it might just change your life and to satisfy your search in all things forever. Even take this from the mouth of one famous professor at Amherst, Robert Frost, and with his I close. He started his poem, The Most Of It, feel free to write the title down and go read the full poem like this. He thought he kept the universe alone for all the voice and answer he could wake was but the mocking echo of his own from some tree-hidden cliff across the lake. Some morning from the boulder-broken beach, he would cry out on his life that what it wants is not his own love back in copy speech, but counter-love, original response. Again, the title of the poem is the most of it. Thank you. And God bless.
Good morning. We're here today to carry the significance of the past. Through the present into a future that we together will write. I'm gonna read two passages by the humanist philosopher, Martin Hagglund that I think speak to that moment. Evenings no one else can remember live in you when the snow touched your face or the rain caught you unprepared when you were all alone and yet marked by all the others who have made you who you are. There are things you cannot leave behind or wish you could retrieve. And there is hope you cannot extinguish whether buried or insistent, broken or confident. The one never excluding the other.
Moments of happiness in love, gathering and deepening the experience of a shared life cannot be contained in an instant since the moment is bound up with a network of meaning that extends to the memory of a shared past and anticipations of a future together. As we live through the present moment and carry the significance of our past and anticipate a future together, I invite all of us to remember that we share a core of human values, whatever our traditions or beliefs, and to carry those values with you and to act on them for the rest of your lives. Thank you. [pause] [music]
Well, that is a tough act to follow. What a blessing. This is a holy and bittersweet moment to look out among so many dear ones and have such high hopes. And at the same time to know that they will be so missed at this place. So with that thought, I offer you this prayer. God, on this morning, as we prepare to send these beloved seniors out from this place and into the wider world, we begin by offering you a word of thanks. Thank you God, for the abundant blessing that you have offered us in the sharing of these beautiful souls, what a remarkable creator you are to have fashioned each one of them, their gifts and accomplishments have left this community shaped and transformed. And we dwell now in the hope and gladness for the gifts that they will also impart to the world beyond this campus. God, these college years have not been without their challenges. You have nurtured these humans through unprecedented times, strengthening them as they persevered through trials, drawing them into community with one another and reminding them that we belong to God and that we belong to one another. Thank you for the sustaining power of your love.
Now, as we prepare to travel down, separate paths, bind them in heart and spirit to you God. And to one another in times of challenge, remind them of the home that they have made in this place. Once a church, always a church, once a community, always a community, connect them to that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before them just as they too now join in that sacred circle. And wherever it is that the journey of life takes them next, God place your desire for them upon their hearts, that they would continue to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with their God, grant them the clarity to encounter your presence in each and every person. They meet the strength to meet suffering with compassion and understanding the fortitude and insistence to convey your justice to a hurting world. And the deep knowledge that as your children, they are both beloved and sacred. Everyone. May this be so, amen.
Hello. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I'd like to start off with a quote from one of my favorite books, Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. May I be awake enough to notice when love appears and bold enough to pursue it without knowing where it will lead? We might like to think we can recognize love when it enters our lives, but amongst the stress and worries, this can be difficult to do. And the same goes for finding the courage to pursue love without knowing where it will lead. We might be held back by a fear. It won't be reciprocated or worthwhile. However, as is an important pillar in the Protestant traditions, we can find the inspiration to love through community, being a part of the RSL community at Amherst and specifically within gather, I've learned how to better recognize and pursue love in my daily life, through discussion and prayer over the trials and tribulations of college life while grieving and celebrating one another gather has become a place of growth and comfort for me. I believe that finding a community where you feel a sense of belongingness and support is crucial to experiencing steadfast and fulfilling love.
Think about the communities you find yourself in, or the ones you want to join and allow them to be the catalyst for embracing love. I promise that recognizing and pursuing love in community is worthwhile and will provide lifelong bonds with those around you. With that, I offer you all a blessing. God, may we have the awareness and capacity to find the love that enters our lives? Let us use this love to serve as a beacon of hope in creating a more kind and just world. May we have the courage to act on this love and rejoice in it help us to be fearless in our pursuit of love with the mindset of serving others. As we go, may we find a community that embraces us for who we are and fills us with a gratifying abundance of hope and joy. Amen.
I'm gonna start with a section from a reading from first Corinthians. Love never ends, but as for prophecies, they will come to an end. As for the tongues. They will cease as for knowledge, it will come to an end where we now only in part, we prophesy only in part, but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child. I thought like a child. I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways for now. We see only a reflection as in a mirror, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part then I will know fully even, and as I have been fully known and now faith hope and love abide these three. And the greatest of these is love. I, my wish for all of us is that we can continue to abide in the love that we have had together here, whether or not I'm still a child is highly debatable. But I have certainly grown up a good bit here and it has been a pleasure and a delight to get to do so over the past several years. And so I'm very grateful to the community and I'm very grateful for the love, but the love doesn't end. Thank you.
Good morning, everybody. [Speaks In A Foreign Language] My name is Basma, and I would like to start this with a little fun fact which is the first word of the Koran to be revealed is <inaudible>, which directly translates to read from Arabic. And the message of this is the act of gaining knowledge and learning is so integral to Islam, that it was one of the first things that was commanded of us. A Hadith or a saying from the prophet Mohammed upon him says education is not only the right, but the duty of every Muslim, male or another Hadith states that when a man dies, all of his, all of his acts come to an end, but three, one of those three being the knowledge by which people benefit these Hadiths tell us that acquiring knowledge is equally as important as passing it along.
One of the only things that will stay on this earth long after you're passing is the impact that you've had on other people, good or bad in about 24 hours. Many of us in this room will become graduates of Amherst college. We'll leave this place, we'll have grown as people and as scholars and will, we will hopefully have gained a better understanding of the world around us. And when we walk across that stage tomorrow morning and officially become alumni, I urge you to reflect on the Amherst degree that you've earned through your hard work and dedication reflect on your intellectual curiosity is your appetite still there, will it continue to grow, reflect on what you've learned and how do you plan on using it, reflect on the mentors who have helped you along the way. And will you continue that cycle? And lastly, reflect on the legacy you want to leave behind. I will end this with one more Hadith from the prophet, peace be upon him. One who shreds a path in search of knowledge has his path to paradise made easy by God, may we all continue in the pursuit of knowledge. May we all be guided to use it in which whatever way is meaningful for us? Thank you.
My name is Manju Shama. I'm a Hindu advisor. My greeting said to you that divine light inside me greets the divine light inside you. Congratulations to the class of 2022. I'm offering a prayer from Baric time in Hindu tradition, written long, long back. Men and women who wrote these prayers were realized [unclear]. They paid a lot of attention to peace in the world. They respected harmonious [ucnlear] existence of our living and known living entities of the nature in cosmos. Their [unclear] shared through mantras, which are written in Sanskrit. I will chant the mantras first and I'll try my best to translate it. You can chant Shante with me in the end, which means peace. [Chanting] Lead us from unreal to the real or the truth. Lead us from darkness of ignorance to the light of knowledge, lead us from death to immortality. Pure consciousness is itself perfect. This world of forms and matters is also perfect or absolute since one has been projected from the other, whether you converse to it or diverse from it, it is still absolute or perfect. Peace to our community, peace to the neighboring communities and peace to the universe. Thank you.
So the happy task of introducing our Baccalaureate speaker, Reverend Adam Lawrence Dyer, Reverend Dyer is lead minister at first parish, Unitarian Universalist church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the Unitarian Universalist chaplain at Harvard University. He is the author of Love Beyond God, a collection of poetry and reflections focused on Black identity and liberal religion and his blog, spiritualwellness.org explores the relationship between bodies, faith and politics. In 2021, he contributed to the Harvard Kennedy school LGBTQ policy journal with his article religious equity, a path to greater LGBTQ inclusion. Reverend Dyer is a graduate of Princeton University and the Pacific School of Religion where he received his MDIV, the certificate in sexuality and religion and the Paul Wesley Yinger Preacher award, and looking forward, some newish good news is that this fall, Reverend Dyer will head to Charlottesville to begin a PhD program in religious studies at the University of Virginia, focused on the intersection of religion and equity in the academic area of ethics and society.
Today, amidst the decreasing or at least shifting religiosity of our times, and given the seemingly unceasing collapse of discourse into polarities, I am especially pleased to be hosting a Unitarian Universalist or a UU baccalaureate speaker, as I believe that tradition, which I've come to know through classmates and friends who are ministers of it, that that tradition has so much to offer individual searching souls. And I don't think it's an overstatement to say that UU may also serve as a useful spiritual role model for our nation. Though an outsider to that tradition. I'm so impressed with the different beliefs and the converging values their members hold. And if you're unfamiliar Unitarian Universalism holds seven basic, simple and profound principles commitments that strike me as essential and wise, and they include the inherent worth and dignity of every person, justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.
And they resonate strongly with my Buddhist and generally my human values and sensibilities I'll share just one more appreciation about him personally or interpersonally, before turning the microphone over to him. So when he and I were chatting a few months back one of those happy phone calls when the email says, yes, I can, and I will be your keynote speaker. And I think, yes, let's talk about it. So he had kind of told me the story of his professional trajectory. And so he's speaking of various and quite different occupations he's held and he completed this brief summary ending with his current role of minister. And so I reflected back to him that perhaps his baccalaureate address could offer the message that it's never too late to pursue a career of meaning and substance. And he corrected me. He corrected me by sharing that all of his work has felt meaningful to him, worthy, substantial. And I immediately, I loved his honesty and I love that teaching even more that we can define the roles we serve by the intentions we bring to them of them.
So I'm so glad you're here to share some of your heart and mind with our graduates. Please join me in offering a warm welcome to Reverend Dyer.
I didn't realize I was this tall. There we go. <Laugh>
Wow. That's quite an introduction and it is quite a pleasure to be here this morning, and to be able to share something with you some reflections and whatnot. And I want to begin by thanking Harrison Blum, the director of religious and spiritual life,and for the college for this generous invitation to let me address you today, I believe deeply in the work for spirit, religion, and ethics in this world. And I consider it an enormous honor to be asked to add my voice to your understanding of those things today, I would also like to thank the students, the parents, the families by birth and by choice for you have endured an unbelievable burden to complete this journey through a time of unsureness and catastrophe, but you made it, you will always carry that success with you. I would also like to thank the faculty staff and in particular President iddy Martin, as she prepares to move on actually to Harvard of all places,together, all of your leadership has made this environment possible.
Finally, , I would like to thank some ancestors, first, my personal ancestors, my grandfather, the late Jacob, Reverend Jacob Alexander Dyer, my mother, the late Edwina Weston-Dyer, also Reverend and also a few scholars who I'm not going to be quoting today, but who resonate in everything that I think and do. James Luther Adams Unitarian scholar of Harvard and Howard Thurman, a mystic, scholar, inspiration. I would also like to thank the ancestors of the past, who are part of a conflicted and colonial history, including the displaced people of Nonotuck, the labor and wealth derived from people who were enslaved. And I would like to thank the ancestors of the future, who I know will be resolved to a future grounded in equity and in mutual thriving. And as always, I give thanks to God and the spirit for getting me here. <Laugh> keeping me safe, allowing me to ask questions and offer my own perspective on this world. One note, I will let you know that I do mention very briefly in passing, self-harm in this message. If you are in need of support, please seek help. You are not alone. The national suicide prevention lifeline is 800 2 7 3 8 2 5 5.
I have a confession to make, as I stand here before you an ordained member of clergy, fully fellowshipped as a Unitarian Universalist minister, I am also available to the world in a video where I'm not wearing very much clothing. Back in 2003, I was a fitness model and I had the great privilege to be featured in the P 90 X fitness videos. I appear in the segments of the series titled Core Synergistics, Yoga X, which sounds a lot more provocative than it is, and AB Ripper X. And it's this last one where I'm wearing sneakers and a pretty skimpy pair of gym shorts and nothing else, except my dreadlocks. I had dreadlocks at the time, and sweat. Most people don't usually recognize me these days, but there was a time when the series really took off around 2008 and people were stopping me on the street and it was a weird feeling, a good feeling, but a very weird feeling.
In addition to being a model, I was also a personal trainer and a group exercise instructor. In that time of my life, I learned to really value, protect and maintain my overall health. When a few years later, I added a massage therapy license to my qualifications. I felt complete. I worked with a variety of clients in fitness and wellness, but the most significant of these was working with people who were HIV positive. I received stories from them about how they felt they didn't have access to working on wellness alone. Rather it was always put in the context of maintaining their immune systems. Their wellness was pathologized, no one's body, no one's being deserves to be pathologized before it is respected and honored and loved from these stories. And more, I began to formulate a personal theology and a professional commitment to embodiment and equity and by embodiment, I mean how we inhabit and generate the human experience of having bodies and what that means for us to have a healthy society. It was this thinking that drew me into ministry. And so I share my, my depth of knowledge about bodies, wellness, and health as a foundation for my ministry, so that you can understand how significant it was when I took a leave of absence this past fall for my mental and physical health, my body and mind were not allowing me to work in a healthy way. My coping methods were hurting me more than they were sustaining me. And I felt like I was slowly falling down a drain.
I'm not alone in that feeling over the last few years. And I'm sure I'm not alone in that feeling in this room at Harvard, where I am a chaplain, the most important conversation among our community and with health providers and equity leaders on campus is about the devastating effect that the pandemic and the general state of the world is having on students. I feel deeply for each and every one of you who has scaled this Everest of higher learning in the midst of everything else going on in the world. It is an astonishing achievement. Of course, other generations have also faced their own horrors world wars come to mind racial segregation. And for my generation in the 1980s, it was graduating into the midst of the dawning aids crisis, which for a gay man, like myself, felt at the time, like more of a when and not an if, because there were no treatments and the government still wouldn't even talk about it. I have to admit, I kind of miss marching down fifth avenue during the early years of pride parades chanting we're here, we're queer get used to it. I don't, however, miss the unexplainable and untreatable death were feeling like sex was a war zone.
And I miss too many of my friends and lovers.
What is different for you, however, is that the challenging world you are facing is one that is connected and measured in milliseconds and terabytes, not in hours and handwritten letters delivered by mail. The wonderful and incredible immediacy of our world comes with a pressure to respond and an urgency that earlier generations don't fully grasp quality is in part for you, measured in quickness and access where for us, it had different metrics and it is not just you having to navigate it. It is all of us, but you are the next leaders, which means you carry with you of fluency in the world of immediacy and an expectation that it can work and assumptions about how that world can function for you as it leads to the next generation.
One of the things that is humbling about being in ministry is how much I get to interact with and understand about beliefs. And I mention this because one of the experiences you are inheriting in this intensely connected and wildly global and fast moving world is about beliefs. Not necessarily about having specific beliefs, but this world of connectivity includes the fact that beliefs and the ways of being are bumping up against each other, like never before whole societies that would never have firsthand experience of each other are at the virtual table together every day, even in this room, the range of cultures and experiences is more vast than the founders of the college may have ever imagined they could be. And it is in that spirit that I want to turn to the topic of this talk, being well, being well wellbeing at its heart being well today is not any different than it was a thousand or more years ago. What has changed is how we talk about it, how we understand it in ourselves and how we regard wellbeing in each other. In truth, we aren't smarter than people in the past. Either. We simply know more about what we don't know, because we have more immediate access to it.
One thing is true though, because of that access, trust is more crucial than ever. And trust has changed with greater access and exposure to the world. How do we trust in a world of racism, sexual, and gender marginalization, political radicalization, and government sanctioned violence. How do we be well in that world? In the past before we were so connected people who were fighting for human rights and equal rights liked to raise the call, that we are all the same. This was particularly true in workaround integration. We are all the same under the skin. I'm here to shatter that and to tell you, no, we are not the same. We are none of us the same. In fact, what makes me thrive may very well be completely toxic to you. What I want for my body may be an abomination to you. What I believe around my mortality may be an insult to you. What you think is right for society may literally be death. For me being well, may not be well for everyone. This is what the interconnected world tells us today. And we are confused and bewildered and shaken by this knowledge,
In that confusion. Some turn inward, others try to sway those who disagree with them. Still others, sadly, turn to violence as revenge against others who're feeling harmed or to self-harm as desperation to escape. So I come to you today as a human, before I am a faith leader, to invite you into another kind of relationship with trust and what it means to be different, different from each other. What if trust? Wasn't in fact built on our sameness? What if it wasn't all about being able to see myself in you? What if instead, trust real trust meant I could be present with you in all of your difference to be able to recognize you more clearly. You see, I've come to understand that trust is being able to say we are different and we are bound to each other. In that difference, human beings are a happy accident, somewhere. It, some would say of biology, others of the divine. And part of that accident of what I believe is both faith and science. We have infinite variations. Yes, there is a common theme, a common spark, but wild and spectacular variations of color, shape, size ability, cognition, viability, and age. Indeed. It is our capacity for difference. That is the one thing we share as human siblings.
That two entirely different people can create another totally different and independent being is miraculous. And I'm sure deliberate. And what if we learned to trust our inevitable and infinite difference and found this as a foundation for wellbeing?
Dare I say that if we could embrace this kind of trust and this kind of knowledge of each other, we would find real solutions to our great and pressing problems today, and in the future, to the log jam that exists in our political systems to the fact that we seem complacent to tolerate and simply move on from catastrophic acts of mass death, whether they occur in nature or whether they come from our own hands to our ongoing struggle to recognize the full power, autonomy, wisdom, and breath of womanhood, to being mired in a comprehension of gender that limits itself to body parts, to operating under the misconception that we are destroying the planet. When mother earth has endured worse insults than human beings. Rather, we are destroying our ability to inhabit it, to measuring human value against standards of bodily and mental capacity and capability that are impossible to standardize to the full weaponization of religion. And more, my wellbeing may not mean the same as being well for you, but my wellbeing is how I am whole. If I can trust you to honor my basic human need for wellbeing to thrive in my difference from you or with you, but different from you, I can be whole and you deserve and are entitled to the same. You can be whole, we can be whole together.
We all deserve wholeness as a basic right of being human. So hold on to that, which makes you, you, your beliefs, your dreams, your fears, your ambitions, your understanding of what ultimately makes life sing, but hold on to that unique uniqueness, not to separate yourself from the person next to you, but to draw you closer to every other being that contains that same dazzling potential for difference and variation, be connected through our collective wisdoms. Be connected by technology. Yes, all of that, but first be connected by being well in whatever way that makes you and subsequently all of us most holy human, amen. Blessed be. Be well.
Shabbat Shalom. This morning, we have paused to reflect on the gifts which brought each graduate to this day. The gifts of time, love friendship, caring and hard work graduates. Your accomplishments are worthy of celebration in and of itself. Still as soon to be graduates of Amherst. I challenge you with a question from the talmud on the purpose of education, which is greater learning or action. The talmud's answer is that learning is greater because learning leads to action. Our college has a similar view of the purpose of education. The college motto, Terras Irradient, let them give light to the world, demonstrates that the goal of education is not knowledge itself, but how the knowledge is used in the world. Our world, while full of promise. Diversity is also teaming with darkness, challenges and uncertainty. As you leave Amherst, I ask you to seek out the dark areas and shine your lights into them. Dispel some of this darkness help the world find solutions to all its challenges with your learning, with your enthusiasm, your personalities, and your actions.
I offer you a prayer from the talmud to guide you. As you leave, may you live to see your world fulfilled. May your destiny be for world still to come and may you trust in generations past and yet to be, may your heart be filled with intuition and your words filled with insight. May songs of praise ever be upon your tongue and your vision. Be on a straight path before you may your eyes shine with the light of holy words and your face reflect the brightness of the heavens. May your lips speak wisdom and your fulfillment be in righteousness, even as you yearn to hear the words of a holy ancient, one of old there's a Jewish prayer Shehecheyanu, which is recited at joyous occasions and times of life transitions first in English. And then I'll conclude in Hebrew praised our you God, ruler of the world who gave us life sustained us and brought us to this joyous day. Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam. Sh'hecheyanu.
Peace be of one, all of you. As we're closing this beautiful program, we'll be moving into the light of this glorious day, celebrating those who are graduating. I'll share the supplication of light, the Du'aa of Noor. Light in my tradition in Islam means the closeness to the creator, to Allah, to God, or the light of knowledge, the light of wisdom, whatever light means to you in your tradition or in your personal belief. I invite you to connect with me in this moment. I'll read the Do'aa in Arabic first, and then I'll read the translation. [Singing In Arabic]
[Singing In Arabic]
[Singing In Arabic]
[Singing In Arabic]
[Singing In Arabic]
[Singing in Arabic]
O Allah, or creator, place light in my heart and light in my sight and light in my hearing and light to my right and light to my left and light on my top and light under me and light before me and light behind me and light for me, [Arabic] and peace be upon all of us.