Welcome to Daily SPARC – each weekday our chaplains, friends from the Penn Religious Communities Council and other voices from campus will be posting messages of support and encouragement.

Today’s message is from Rev. Mariclair Partee Carlsen, the priest at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Locust Walk, and the Episcopal Chaplain to the University:

As the end of the semester grows near, my thoughts have been with everyone in the University community- students of any year or school or program, those who are preparing to graduate, faculty and staff- who find themselves in a much different place than any of us expected when classes started back in January. It feels like a lifetime ago, and in a way it has been. Life is different now. So much has changed, so much is unrecognizable as we continue to make our way forward, and because we don’t know when the end will be insight, we aren’t sure of we are in the middle of this journey or almost through.


And yet- we still have occasions of joy to celebrate, accomplishments achieved, bright spots within this interim time, because life goes on. In my tradition we often mark momentous occasions with a blessing, a way of setting aside the sacredness of the moment, celebrating, mourning, rejoicing.


For all of us who find ourselves on this unexpected path, for those who will soon be celebrating a graduation that will be much different than they expected, for anyone who wonders where this journey we are on is taking us, I offer a poem by John O’Donohue as a benediction and a gift to carry with you along your way:


For the Interim Time


When near the end of day, life has drained

Out of light, and it is too soon

For the mind of night to have darkened things,


No place looks like itself, loss of outline

Makes everything look strangely in-between,

Unsure of what has been, or what might come.


In this wan light, even trees seem groundless.

In a while it will be night, but nothing

Here seems to believe the relief of dark.


You are in this time of the interim

Where everything seems withheld.


The path you took to get here has washed out;

The way forward is still concealed from you.


“The old is not old enough to have died away;

The new is still too young to be born.”


You cannot lay claim to anything;

In this place of dusk,

Your eyes are blurred;

And there is no mirror.


Everyone else has lost sight of your heart

And you can see nowhere to put your trust;

You know you have to make your own way through.


As far as you can, hold your confidence.

Do not allow your confusion to squander

This call which is loosening

Your roots in false ground,

That you might come free

From all you have outgrown.


What is being transfigured here is your mind,

And it is difficult and slow to become new.

The more faithfully you can endure here,

The more refined your heart will become

For your arrival in the new dawn.