You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
Marquette University Theology is a special sort of place. It has special sorts of people, and it is the people that make the place. Not unlike the Hundred Acre Wood.
A hundred acres of new ideas and new friends. And the friends make the ideas. And the friends make the place.
People are big worlds, big worlds stuffed between ears and crammed beneath chests. People are the biggest little worlds of all. And most fragile. People are made of stuffing even softer than you, little bear. The hardest thing to know is that. It is hardest because it is softest. Don’t you think? I have to say, this is the hardest thing for the scholar to think. The soft thing. It is hard to think softly. Perhaps it is easier for you. You already know that you are small.
Theology is filled to the brim with soft things. We might say that it is sweet. It is like hunny. But, silly bear, it cannot give you hunny. Theology is like hunny, but it cannot give you it.
I will tell you a little more in a little bit.
These fragile little people with their big worlds between their ears and beneath their chests come to study the soft things. They come here. To greet the hundred acres of gentle creatures. Tigger and Owl and Piglet and everyone. The forest of soft things. They come here.
And they leave.
Just like me.
I must leave, little bear. It is time that I leave. I came here to leave, you know. It is time, and it must be so. I am growing up.
It is hard to love, gentle bear, because everything we love leaves us. Love makes us soft, and it is so hard to leave.
But I must leave you, and I want to leave you. I am growing up.
Hunny is the thing. Let us talk about hunny for a little while. It is sweet and it is sticky, and it requires not a little effort for little bears to get it. Hunny is the thing, bear. Theology cannot get you any. It talks about what makes hunny sweet, and it teaches us about our delight in hunny. But it cannot get you any. Every new degree conferred will only teach you how to say what you need.
I have to say, I need hunny, and I must leave.
I know, bear. You are crying, and you cannot speak.
Most of us, bear. We cry and we cannot speak.
I am growing up. I must go. There is sweetness beyond us both. You must let me go, and I must let you go. Love lets go.
And yes, it is so hard to think about that.
Growing up is not so much about goodbye, bear. Please remember. It is about being able to trust that goodbye is not forever. Love is soft, and the hard thing is that it must always risk its loss.
We lose many things. That is also what grownups do.
But so do children. You already know that.
None of my words are quite right, little bear. I wish I could find the right ones. I wish I knew how. But I lost all my words somewhere. I lost them, gentle bear.
Leaving will make me littler and gentler. Like you. I must leave. We must lose each other. Do you see? Please say that you do. Growing up means getting softer. But I have to do the hard thing.
I must leave.
And then you’ll see. You’ll see the Forest grow wild beyond its hundred acres. Oh bear, there are so many people to know. So many worlds in little things. Such a world we live in, little bear. Such a world. You will see. That goodbye makes things grow – grow up wild beyond this Hundred Acre Wood.