By Trent Rash
“To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
My introduction to that verse from Ecclesiastes was from the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by The Byrds in the movie “Forrest Gump.” Little did I understand what it meant at such a young age then. Now, however, I am living it.
It is with great sadness that I inform you that I am leaving my position at the Newman Center and have accepted a position as the Executive Director of The Missouri Symphony. My current season, so to speak, has come to an end, and it is time for the next to begin.
The Newman Center is a special place. I have called it home for 20 years. It is made up of the most caring, loving, giving people I know. I am so thankful to have gotten the opportunity to know so many of you over my time here. Thank you for your support and encouragement of me and the entire staff. We do what we do because of you.
As you embark on exploring “Who Is My Neighbor?”, I hope you will challenge yourselves to love someone who perhaps it seems difficult or impossible to love. The person “on the left.” The person “on the right.” The illegal immigrant. The young woman who had an abortion. The gay man. All of these people are our neighbors. Every human, regardless of what path they are on, is endowed with the right to be loved. I have tried to live this out myself. Sometimes it has been easy and others, hard. But I have never stopped trying.
As the passage in Ecclesiastes goes on, “A time to kill, a time to heal, a time to break down, and a time to build up.” Let us be a people of healing and of building up. It is our time to do so. In a world where hatred is shoved in our ears and burned into our eyes every day, let us choose a time to love and not to hate.
Although my purpose in life is shifting, I will strive to choose love. I’d like to leave you with a poem by Lindy Thompson that has affected me deeply:
In the midst of pain, I choose love.
In the midst of pain, sorrow falling down like rain, I await the sun again,
I choose love.
In the midst of war, I choose peace.
In the midst of war, hate and anger keeping score, I will seek the good once more,
I choose peace.
When my worlds fall down, I will rise.
When my worlds fall down, explanations can’t be found, I will climb to higher ground,
I will rise.
Rise up and choose love. Choose peace. Choose to know your neighbor.