Letters to the Editor
When I read Emily Dickinson's “Hope” poem on the cover of Response [Spring 2008], I bitterly thought to myself, “No kidding, Hope is a ‘thing with feathers,’ since it certainly has wings with which to fly away.” Because of a deeply personal betrayal, I had lost home, job, friends, family, community, health — and definitely hope. Hope did not “perch in my soul” or “sing a tune without words.” Its song had certainly stopped — unlike Dickinson’s “never stops — at all.” I dared the pages of Response to prove me wrong.
It didn’t take long. On page 6, President Eaton examined Isaiah 43:18, “Stop dwelling on past events and brooding over days gone by. I am about to do something new; this moment it will unfold. Can you not perceive it?” As I read about Dr. Eaton’s resolve to “carry [himself] more expectantly, with a posture of anticipation” in response to that verse, I detected a slight flutter in my peripheral vision. Was Hope still perched nearby?
Then I turned to the article about Jürgen Moltmann’s book, Theology of Hope. The central theme of his work was expressed as “the Christian faith being lived in witness to the promises of a God who can and will make all things right.” As I continued reading, I was told that “we are called toward a new future — even as the world is not what it should be.” This time, I not only detected a flutter, I actually think I saw some feathers of Hope. I kept turning the Response pages. There were artistic expressions of hope and determined bringing of hope to those in extreme poverty. My dare was being addressed very seriously — and very creatively.
I moved on to Jeffrey Overstreet’s article that explored how fairy tales affirm our hope. As he used J.R.R. Tolkien’s conclusion from The Lord of the Rings, I knew what was coming. There would not be slight flutters or little feathers in my peripheral vision. The Eagles were about to swoop in to give me back my Hope. As if that were not enough,
Dr. Gallagher’s article expanded Dickinson’s bird imagery to include the Holy Spirit. The Heavenly Dove — with more profound grandeur than Tolkien’s eagles — would “help me in my weakness” and “intercede for me in accordance with God’s will” (Romans 8:26a, 27b).
Not only did my Hope come back home to roost, I also gained insights that may someday help me pull back the branches for someone else whose Hope seems to have flown away. Along with the theology of hope, thanks
for also acquainting us with the “ornithology” of Hope.
Anne Hagerman Wilcox ’90, M.A.T. ’02
I was completely absorbed with the last edition of Response. Being an enthusiastic fan (my husband, Bryan, would consider “big nerd” a more appropriate description) of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Jeffrey Overstreet’s article “The Eagles Are Coming” struck me in particular. I not only read this article over and over, but made friends read it and even referred to it in conversation with other SPU alums.
Hope is a subject that inspires great peace for me. Overstreet referred to J.R.R. Tolkien’s stories as “reassuring”; I, too, find comfort in anything that inspires me to look beyond my short-sighted situation and gives me courage to hope for a bigger picture. A few years ago while walking home in Paris, I was moved by a poster advertising an unmemorable movie but with a tagline I have yet to forget: C’est quand on pense que tout est perdu, tout recommence. Like the eagles arriving at Mount Doom at the end of The Lord of the Rings, this simple sentence continues to challenge me to believe: “It’s when you think all is lost, all begins again.”
Thank you, Response team, for tackling a subject that encourages us to defy the norm of fear and panic, and instead reminds us to look ahead with optimistic expectation.
Cara Veale Coniglio ’96
Thanks so much for making lectures such as Dr. Jürgen Moltmann’s available online through iTunes U. As someone in full-time ministry, usually the only opportunity I have to participate in relevant learning experiences like this would be expensive conventions and seminars. I have found that even if I listen after the event has happened, God’s timing still comes into play. Lectures by Jürgen Moltmann and Kallistos Ware have come at very appropriate times in my journey of life and ministry. [I’m] reminded that the hope I seek in my own life, and in my ministry, is not an empty hope. It’s not a blind enthusiasm that forces a “bumper-sticker” smile to every person I meet. It’s an informed hope in something that actually exists. In a youth-ministry culture where so often enthusiasm itself is the pursuit, Moltmann’s “The Vital Power of Hope” brought a reminder of the depth and substance that must be the foundation.
I look forward to listening to future events and lectures, and am grateful again to the valuable resource Seattle Pacific has made available, both to my ministry development, and my own spiritual journey as well.
Youth Pastor, Moundford Free Methodist Church, Decatur, Illinois
Reading Jeffrey Overstreet's article [“The Eagles Are Coming,” Spring 2008] reminded me of when I was a freshman at SPU and found The Chronicles of Narnia. At Christmas break, I told my wise aunt about the books. She looked at me and said, “I see you are old enough to appreciate fairy tales again!”
Mel White ’67
Powerful Role Models
Where does one begin Dr. Leonard and Marti Ensign, SPU’s 2009 Alumni of the Year?
We have known Len and Marti since 1976, when we moved to the Pacific Northwest and began attending Eastside Free Methodist Church, where Marti was assistant pastor at the time. Since then, they have been true friends, and our family has benefited from their warm, caring love.
Now retired, Len’s and Marti’s lifelong interest in mission trips to Burundi and Rwanda continue. Marti often serves as planner/facilitator/ guide/
interpreter while Len practices his chosen field of medicine, anesthesiology. Marti’s vibrant personality and wise counsel also benefit parachurch organizations such as Richard Foster’s Renovaré and Mission Aviation Fellowship. They’re both actively involved with medical missions in the Free Methodist Church.
Len and Marti each share the gift of hospitality. This is evidenced by the many guests they have invited into their home for nights, even weeks at a time. Church leaders as well as foreign nationals have experienced a warm welcome. I’ve laughingly referred to their home as the Free Methodist Guest House or the Ensign Bed and Breakfast.
SPU can well be proud to have Len and Marti as alumni, and to honor them as Alumni of the Year. What powerful role models they are for present and future graduates.
SPU Professor Emeritus of Education,
A Team We Can Be Proud Of
I just wanted to pass on my congratulations to SPU, its students, staff, and the entire women’s soccer program. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the stands when the winning goal was scored in overtime in Tampa this past Saturday [December 6, 2008]. As I teared up (a bit embarrassed I must say), I looked right and saw President Eaton getting something out of his eye, and then looked left and observed [former Athletic Director] Tom Box experiencing the same condition. Suffice it to say, it was incredible, and we should all be proud to be associated with such a great program, supported by such a great university.
And it has all been done the right way. Great girls — not just great soccer players, but neat people. Great coaches — not just coaches in it to win at all costs, but who actually care about the process and making sure they recruit, and train, wonderful young women. And a fantastic administration — one that goes beyond the call of duty, that flies overnight to support SPU’s team on the other side of the country.
At the end of the day, we are lucky to have this team represent our school — as was clear in a lengthy article in The Seattle Times sports section about the Seattle teams that should evoke pride in Seattle. Pretty cool. Go Falcons!
Brad Thoreson ’85
Congratulations to the SPU’s women’s soccer team for their victory in the 2008 NCAA Championship! This is such an amazing accomplishment, and one that has been eight years in the making for the SPU women. I hope it is only the first of many to come.
The thing I liked best about watching this year’s team play is how much fun they were having. Even though we never won a national championship when I was playing at SPU (2001–04), I will always remember how much fun it was to play and compete with my friends, teammates, and roommates.
I know the memory of this national title will be hard to beat for this year’s team. It sounds like such a cliché, but SPU really is different. We believed when no one had even heard of us, when people didn’t respect us or the GNAC, and when all we had going for us was hard work and faith. Thank you for finishing something we will forever be proud of starting!
Congrats again to Coach Sekyra, the other coaches, and especially the girls. You made us all very happy!
Katie Lim ’05
Member of the 2001 Inaugural SPU Women’s Soccer Team, Hillsboro, Oregon
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