[Because of a minor mix-up in the program, I didn’t get to actually pray this prayer at the convocation. Nevertheless, here’s my prayer for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tonight. – LAR]
God, all merciful and most generous,
At the beginning of this academic year we come together as a diverse and curious people, aware of our differences but united by the challenges we face together.
We ask for your guidance and grace at the start of this new season. Give us hearts and minds that are curious enough to seek the truth, and courageous enough to engage the truth we find together.
Give us the drive to change the world, and the ethical principles to change it only for the better. When we are tempted to go beyond healthy competition, teach us to collaborate effectively and to lift each other up. Help us to be proud of each others’ achievements, while remaining humble in our own.
If we are discouraged or anxious about the future, give us enough hope to reach out to each other, and help us to meet each others’ vulnerability with compassion and empathy.
As we live with the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, keep us vigilant in protecting each other, especially the most vulnerable among us. When protocols and restrictions become wearying, give us renewed patience and commitment to caring for each other.
In a culture that is divided by ideology and politics, make us agents for unity and participants in dialogue. Help us to put aside enmity and seek the common good of all people. As every bridge is a marvel of engineering, precision, and creativity, help us to build bridges between people separated by ideas, beliefs, or identity. May inclusivity and diversity be our strengths, as we rejoice in the infinite variety of talents, gifts, and cultures you have brought together in this place.
O God, we give thanks for the opportunities that lie ahead of us. We are grateful for the joy that comes from discovery. May this academic year be marked by your blessing of us individually and as a community.