“Expect the unexpected.” “Ready for anything.” These sorts of phrases offer advice that seems nearly impossible to follow in times like these. As we’ve been scrambling to prepare for the return or Rensselaer’s students in 10 days (TEN DAYS!!!), I’ve found it very challenging to formulate actual plans. Public health advisories seem to be constantly evolving. Our various constituencies and stakeholders don’t seem to be reading from the same playbook. And what we plan today may be unworkable in two weeks. After nearly 18 months of this cycle, there’s a real temptation to hunker down and wait to see what the next wave will bring. It can feel futile to plan for events that may not happen.
And yet, I know that life goes on, and plan we must. For everything we plan, there must be a Plan “B.” The only way to start to feel like we’re moving toward a more normal life is to make our plans with flexibility and with a willingness to adapt. As I read recently, “The plan isn’t the goal. The goal is the goal.” Our goal is to build a welcoming, vibrant community of faith for RPI and its students, faculty, staff, and neighbors.
What this calls for is resilience— the ability (and willingness!) to accurately assess our situation and creatively keep moving toward our goal. What does our faith have to teach us about resilience?
The founder of the Paulist Fathers, Servant of God Isaac Hecker, counseled us to be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, to read the signs of the times, and to respond with courage and trust in Divine Providence. When we work together as a community of faith to meet the challenges of these times, we can trust that God’s love and mercy will not fail us, as we work for the common good locally and globally. If we have to move to our Plan “B,” we can trust that it was God’s Plan “A” all along.