We are all back and ready for our FINAL semester at Rhodes College! It’s crazy to think how far we have come since the beginning of our friendship freshman year. It’s a time of anticipation and bewilderment. I’m glad to have Team Ruka to be there to experience these last months at Rhodes with me. . . and to cheer me on as I go out into the world beyond the college’s gates. We finished up last semester with a dinner at the Ruka with Rhodes Religious Studies Professor Tom Bremer and his wife Melody. We enjoyed sharing travel stories over lasagna and exploring what separates pilgrimages from tourism. . . among other things. This semester started off with enough snow to build snowmen and forts and a visit to Caritas Village (see “Loving Our Community” page) where the six of us spent the afternoon hanging out with the Peacemakers Afterschool Program (every Tues and Thursday afternoon- let us know if you would like to get more information about volunteering with this great program). We loved spending time with the kids . . . decorating a tree with peace signs and paper snowflakes, playing chess, working puzzles, unscrambling “peace words,” and having quality conversations with the awesome kids there! Resident Ruka photographer, Sarah Dockery, got some snapshots that we will be sure to share with you soon.
After meeting with our wonderful Rhodes advisor, Professor McNary-Zak, we have laid down our application process for selecting the members of the Ruka for the coming 2011-2012 school year. We are excited to work towards making the Ruka a sustainable project and are looking forward to reading the applications we have received. We are certain we have a solid group of candidates! We have Monday off and are stoked about using it as a “Ruka Retreat”= bonding time for the Ruka. We are headed to spend the morning at Caritas Village with fellow Rhodes Students who will be participating in a Service Plunge there for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, and are going to follow time at Caritas up with good food and time with good people.
I had the incredible opportunity to take a course last semester taught by Dr. Luther Ivory on the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first day of class last fall, Ivory, who has us call him the “I-man,” began to name off some of King’s great speeches and writings in order to see how familiar we were with the man whose birthday is celebrated by a day’s break from school each year. He began listing off titles like A Testament of Hope (no recognition in our faces), Where Do We Go from Here? (blank stares), A Time to Break Silence, Nonviolence and Racial Justice (still without any recognition, we began to stare down at our desks in embarrassment as Dr. Ivory hid himself behind the movable white board and peeked around the corner and continued to list off speeches and writings of King). . . An Experiement in Love, The Power of Nonviolence, My Trip to the Land of Gandi, Why We Can’t Wait. . . finally, Ivory said I Have a Dream. . . we recognized THAT. But only that.
Needless to say, we learned a lot in that class about the King with “feet of clay” who was far from perfect but rose up in a time that needed a leader and whose radical theology of revolutionary love continues to wield influence across the globe. While I am crazy about and so challenged by so much of King’s writing, I’d like to share just one selection from his Letter From a Birmingham City Jail (1963):
“It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. . . We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”