by Gayle D. Beebe, Ph.D., president
Santa Barbara is a joyous place to live and work. The world comes to our doorstep as we offer the varied and rich traditions of our wonderful city amidst one of the most attractive climates in the entire world. Yet despite its beauty, Santa Barbara has a beastly side.
Our spring semester ended with fire (the Jesusita Fire this time) threatening campus less than six months after the Tea Fire. As we scurried around hosting our trustee meeting and preparing for Baccalaureate in the gym, the evacuation order descended Friday morning forcing all of us to leave campus. It was yet another time to remain flexible — and to improvise and pray.
A highlight for me this spring was the release of my book “Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion,” which I co-authored with Richard Foster. The volume reflects 10 years of teaching and three years of writing and seeks to communicate the ways in which we awaken to God and begin to make sense of this renewal.
These become the anchor points of our life with God: the freedom to engage all of life’s experiences and ask the most vexing questions while holding confidently to our faith in Christ as we make a faithful response.
In many respects, the book is also autobiographical. Years ago, I first awakened to God. Even though I grew up in a Christian home, the questions that come to every honest seeker had come to me, and I needed help. First I had to learn how to understand these questions, and then I wanted to understand how God makes a faithful response. Over a five-year period my spiritual quest assisted me in making sense of the nature and destiny of our life with God. This pursuit of God triggered my own intellectual awakening and included the pivotal semester I spent at Westmont in 1980.
Today my life with God is settled, but the quest to make sense of each new experience continues. Although we all recognize that life is more than just experiences, we also realize that our active engagement with these experiences gives us insight into the nature and meaning of life. With Westmont situated in such a beautiful yet threatened area, it is easy to overlook the multiple opportunities to see the mercy and grace of God.