Wednesday, November 24, 2010

#2: "In Everything Give Thanks!” - Lesson Learned /Heart-ache Lessened

I somehow remember my mother saying that the one thing she can’t stand is an ungrateful person.  Yes, she would mainly say this when me or my sister seemed to be ungrateful for something she did.  But that has sucks with me and has been a lesson that I have learned.  I wish I was better at it. I try to send thank you cards to people who have given me something or have done something meaningful for me, but too often I do forget to truly say thank you.

Thank you goes a long way! Another thing my mother says.  I think about the many doors that have opened simply because I was taught by my mother to treat all those in low and high places with dignity and respect. Yeah sometimes I fall short at that, but I try my best and well I know I need to try harder to express my gratitude. So to each of you I say Thank You!
God uses people, ordinary people to be extraordinary blessings. I am grateful that God placed many of those people in my life at some point. If I began to name names I would leave off quite a few. But if I had to list them I could not forget… my mother and my sisters, adopted grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. There were elementary school teachers, High school administrators, NAACP advisors, mentors,  College Presidents/administrators, scholarship program leaders, professors, church members, pastors, custodians, security officers,  lunch ladies, office assistants, supervisors, coworkers, classmates, seminary friends,  adopted aunts and uncles and big brothers! Within these broad scopes lie many who have been ordinary people, who have been extraordinary blessings in my life at one time or another. At this present time, I must name one person. Shout out to my friend and co-worker, Arrion, who has made living in Iowa a lot easier & fun, and well I glad she is here.  Yall don’t know until you tried living as a black man in a white town with a whole bunch of white folks.  I’ll leave it at that!
Yes, I have learned the lesson of gratitude. So I say thank you to all those who have in some way touched my life and made me the person I am today. I even say thanks to those who believed I would not succeed. I am grateful to you, not simply because I can say “look at me now”, but because at some point I was able to utilize your pessimism to propel me forward as I said, “I know I can, I know I can, I know I Can!”
Finally, I give thanks to God because I realize that the blessings of my life are way beyond my human ability.  The blessings of friends, whom I may not speak to in months but relationships carry on as if we just talked yesterday.  The blessing of my family (immediate and extended) who love me unconditionally.  The blessing of a job with great benefits. The blessing of a SUV that I drive and the ability to make the monthly payments and the insurance premium. I am blessed to have two sisters, MaSherra and MaShica, and a mom, Sherry, and I can’t forget about my nephew and brother-in-law, Jedidiah and Dontae, whom all I adore and give thanks to Almighty God for making me part of such a talented beautiful family.
As the song writer says:

"I could go, on and on and on, about Your works,
Because I'm grateful, grateful, so grateful just to praise You Lord, 
Flowing from my heart, Are the issues of my heart,  Is Gratefulness!”


Lesson Learned, Heart-ache Lessened,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

#1:“Watch What You Say in Emails” - Lesson Learned /Heart-ache Lessened

Yes this is a practical lesson learned. Where to begin?
One of my first awakening moments about how emails can damage your reputation, destroy friendships and cause division, was during my senior year of college.  All I can remember is that one of the SGA cabinet members, Hima, was not meeting my approval because of her lack of doing some things that I saw as important.  I am vague about this because I honestly can’t remember what she did that made me so mad.  I worked as the Lead Cultural Peer for my undergrad’s Cultural and Diversity Center and Interfaith Center.  She was something like the Director of Cultural and Diversity Initiatives for the Student Government Association (appointed by the then SGA President, Jordan).  All I can remember is that she dropped the ball on several projects that we were to be working on.   Which brings me to the email. I actually sent this special email to the SGA President, Jordan, but cced Hima, Patty (my then director of Student Life and mentor), and Darci (our graduate assistant and my co-supervisor).  I found the email and well here it goes…
“ Jordan, I am telling you now, if you chose another person like Hima to
be Director of diversity affairs I will come back and protest your
adminstration the entire year, better yet i'll do it from Atlanta!! No
more BS-ing. Hima you know why I said this and Jordan, you know as
well. I think the only one that may be out of the loop is Patty, and
knowing Patty this won't be for long.

Graduating yet Pissed Off Student Leader”

Wow. I shocked myself!  Darci, emails me “Breath Michael, Breath” and Patty emails us all wanting to  know what was going on and she needed to be brought into the loop. Yeah you got it, I did not even give her any back story, I just included her in my rant. Let’s say, as I read back over this email today, I am stunned by my rudeness, disrespect, and tacklessness. But of course back then, I was justified, I was right, and my response was warranted.
 After sending the email, of course, I had to and wanted to meet with Patty.  I remember sitting in her office and she reminding me that if I am to be a great leader, then I must learn how to mind my temper and frustrations. She reminded me the ways to get done what you would like by expressing oneself in a positive and effective manner.  She held me to a higher standard because I was a leader, I was a Christian, and most importantly she knew me as an advocate for change. Patty knew that many trials would come my way, battles would be won and lost, but if I was not able to keep my cool in the midst of it all, then I would be an ineffective leader. Well, maybe she did not know all of that, but that’s what I garnered from her talk and that is what she taught me.
With all the new technology (cut and paste, and the ability to save webpage’s etc.), I have been more cautious about what I type in emails and say online.  This is still remains a constant battle because when I am upset or don’t agree with something or someone, I want them and other to hear and feel my anger within my emails. I want to be sure my viewpoint is clearly stated and understood. But I am learning that more direct communication (face to face) is always the best. And I have learned the importance of writing the email and leaving it overnight until I have a cool head, then coming back editing it or even sending it to a friend to read over before I actually send it. Folks may forget what you say when you speak, but when it is written, it is never forgotten (well, may be deleted, but it surely can come back to haunt you). Even today, because I was able to find this email, shows how immortal emails are.
I'm constantly reminded as I have worked full-time in professional setting of watching emails I send out. Reminded to reread emails before sending them. If I am upset, write the email and step away and then come back later.  I have even learned to say simply nothing or to say let’s talk more in person so that our words are not construed on either end.
Just as Patty had the talk with me, I found myself having a similar talk with one of my student employees whose email tone to me was not professional and seeming condescending. Just as I had someone to teach me that lesson, I too give the same to my students, and let’s be honest, I still work on this because when I get mad, oh how my fingers seek action through email writing!
 Hima and Jordan, if you ever read this, know that I am sorry. In no way should I have expressed myself in such a manner.  I shut down any hopes of dialogue and open communication that could have made for a productive end of the year and a stronger transition for those new leaders who were joining our community.  How hurtful and disrespectful was this and for that I do sincerely apologize. 

Lesson Learned, Heart-ache Lessened, 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Intro To “Lessons Learned Today, Will Lessen the Heart-Aches of Tomorrow.”

After returning from a 7am breakfast that I foolishly setup with some of my NAACP student leaders, I began to think deeply about my life and how grateful I am. Yes it is Thanksgiving season and Gratefulness is in the air! I started to think about all the lessons I have learned over the years, and what God has taught me through others and through challenging situations. I learned lessons that have set me up for a future of fewer issues. 

So in the midst of my contemplation, this thought came to me… “Lessons learned today will lessen the heart-aches of tomorrow.” Ohh yes indeed!!! I have learned quite of few things over the years and I try my best to incorporate what I learned into my life so that I don’t be one who learned the lesson but did not grow in the midst.

Well I thought that as we move through this season of thanksgiving and preparation for the birth of Christ, why not share those lessons I have learned over the past years. So I decided to go back to blogging for ten days, to give ten of my “lessons learned today [that] will lessen the heart-aches of tomorrow.” I will start officially blogging about them tomorrow in no particular order. But let me say this first…

These lessons I have learned have been taught to me by many people and many situations. Some will be able to name the exact person and circumstances and others have formed through life challenges and decisions. I decided to say “lessen the heart-aches” because, the truth of the matter is, life will always bring heartaches. Things will never go completely as planned. One has to learn how to roll with the punches and keep it moving, while learning from the past and seeking for the future to be a little brighter.

One of my colleagues has been encouraging students to manage stress by seeking to be resilient. She understands that stress will always exist, but the question that must be answered is how are you going to handle it, will you let it get the best of you, or will you look deep inside of yourself, and find the strength within to overcome and work through your situation.

Finally, before I say goodnight… I am reminded that these lessons I will share are ones that I am continuing to learn from and that the problem comes when I think I have learned it all and that I know it all. (Yes this will be one of the lessons learned – “I Don’t Know It All”). I must challenge myself and I ask you my friends, to challenge me, to continue to learn, about others and myself.

Once I looked deep inside of me, it took a lot for me to determine that my life’s current situation would not dictate my future! And oh how freeing that was and is! 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lenten Series #39: Spending Day in Des Moines

I have been technically on vacation all week. I thought about traveling,
even flying back to Baltimore but instead I decided to stay in Grinnell.
After doing all that traveling to ATL with my students, I did not want
to drive anywhere else. The weather in Grinnell has been great and I
have enjoyed walking around and chillaxin. I was invited to dinner on
Sunday at one of my coworkers home in DesMoines, IA (the state capital
and closet big city to GrinnelI). So decided to treat myself this
weekend and got me a hotel room for the night in DesMoines. I hope to
get to a local church for service in the morning and then dinner in the

On Saturday I stopped into the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological,
and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) ACT-SO competition for high school
students. This competition is held by local branches of the NAACP and
the local winners go to the national ACT-SO competition at the NAACP
National convention (which is held this year in Kansas City). It was
great seeing the artworks, sculptures, science projects, and hearing the
musical renditions offered by the students. I hope that I will be able
to be supportive of this effort by being a mentor and/or judge in the

That's all I have tonight. Hey, don't blame me, I am on vacation!! Lol

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Lenten Series #38: Evrybody and Their Titles! Ugghh!

So there has been a topic that I have wanted to address, no, that I must address before this Lenten season is over. There is a phenomenon that has continued since last century that centers on everybody wanting titles. From being called Doctor to Bishop to Apostle to Praiseologist (YES, you read right, they 'exist'!!). People want to be recognized!

sidebar... Some people also change when they get a title in front of their names. For example, there are some who have earned doctorates and let it get to their heads, But to their defense there are many who have non-academically earned doctorates who let those titles get to their head as well (another area where you don’t want me to get started on).

It amazes me how many bishops and apostles we have in my hometown of Baltimore, (just found out that another Baptist minister has been named bishop, don’t get me started on this because I don’t know how one can be Baptist and call yourself bishop!). Furthermore, I get frustrated when we look at all these titles, yet folks are still hungry. We want to wear the glittery robes and sit in the places of prestige, yet people are losing their homes and families are being destroyed. And we have the nerve to laugh at the minister who is out on the streets with the people, calling out the injustices and having prayer vigils because he does not fit the norm of what we consider proper ministry.

Let me make this thing personal… I have grown up being in the center of attention when it comes to recognition. I was senior class president of my high school class. I was actively involved in my community, and everywhere I looked there were recognition of my achievement. I had to learn about humility early on. I don’t know if I shared this story before. There was a time when I was very active as youth leader of our teenage choir at church, the Determined Singers. I was the one initiating plans for events, conferences, responsible for attendance and keeping directory information. I took on a lot of responsibilities. One day my mom (who was also the director of the choir) and I were driving along getting ready for rehearsal. She and I got into a heated argument, and I must have said something along the line of, “I ain’t going to rehearsal and you can do the stuff yourself”. She then responded “God can use someone else to do what he has you doing”. I was still mad, can’t remember if I went to rehearsal or not, but I know that statement has been with me ever since. Why did I share this story? Because I recognize that desire for recognition and have found myself many times seeking such. Ever since then God has been working on my humility. I noticed that one of my fist blogs during this Lenten season centered around with humility. One thing I am learning as I journey through life is that humility is what God seeks after.

So, you don’t have to call me Reverend, just call me Michael/Mike! I know my credentials and don’t need to be reminded of them. Now, I do recognize and respect the tradition from which I have come. I honor my church for given me such at title, and pastors, mentors, and ancestors, who have all paved the way for me to be able to have such. And, I am reminded that with such title comes a stronger and deeper responsibility. So I am proud to be Rev. Michael A. Hunt. I am aware that titles open doors. I am grateful that when I say I am Reverend, people listen. But I also understand when I say I am Reverend, people open up and talk. I have seen to many with the Reverend/Bishop/Dr/Apostles still wanting people to listen but never stop talking in order to listen themselves to the people. With so many titles it can be hard to “regard others as better than yourselves.” In Philippians, Paul reminds us…
"If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited, but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross." Philippians 2:1-8 NRSV

If you are reading this and you are in a position of authority In any facet of life, I urge you to aim for the cross! I must admit, there were many times when I wanted my name to be called; I wanted my work to be recognized. But now I am at a place in my life where I just want to live for God and serve my fellow sisters and brothers. These titles will fade away. People will forget about you. When I get to the gates of heaven, I know my degrees will not matter, nor will the titles I hold. When Jesus asks me, “when did you serve me by serving and loving your neighbor?”

Aiming For The Cross,
-Mike (RevMAH)

P.S. RevMAH is a play on the initials of my name. When I was working at a summer camp in Virginia (MeadowkirkCamp) my coworkers nicknamed me RevMAH (pronounced “RevMawh”). It has grown on me and they continue to call me this to this day. I thought this particular blog entry would be the best time to acknowledge this.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lenten Series #37: The Ol' Rugged Cross

It was at the top of the hour, as I walked through town earlier today. The Methodist church bells begun to ring! I noticed that the bells were echoing the melody of “The Ol’ Rugged Cross” . You know how you hear a familiar tune and take a minute for you to recognize it, but when you do you begin to sing it and your souls gets happy.  All evening I could not stop singing “so I cherish the ol’ rugged cross!”   The chorus got so deep in my spirit that I begun to wonder, what is it about the cross that I cherish so much? 

Today we celebrated or observed Maundy Thursday, a time when Jesus shared the Passover meal with his disciples, washed their feet, and acknowledged the one who would betray him.  Tomorrow many will gather around the world, acknowledging his death upon the cross, hearing his cries through the agony and the pain.  Why do i cherish that cross? It is a reminder of what Christ did on our behalf. Even when we did not know or recognize our sin, our separation from God Almighty, Christ closed the gap and gave himself for our sake.  I can still hear Jesus saying, “take up your cross and follow me”, but just as the disciples will do tonight, we turn back and say you are on your own!

Oh how I want so much to be like Jesus, but that cup is bitter and that cross is heavy, and well I don’t know if I can.  Yet the songwriter challenges me to cling to the cross? When I think of the word cling, I picture a child holding on to his mom for dear life!  Cling is a tight-hold.  Webster even goes further and say “to have a strong emotional attachment or dependence”.  We normally hold on tight to something that is good/beneficial. Could the cross actually be an emblem of suffering and shame and at the same time, a sign of peace and But I believe The Resurrection is the sign of peace and hope, while the cross is the shame and suffering.  So why would I want to cling to shame and pain? Then I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Church of Corinth. He said,
 “Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

We are able to carry our cross, the cross that we bear, the insults, hardships, persecutions etc.,  because of the power of Christ (that is seen through his suffering, not just his resurrection). Just as Christ was able to do the same because the power of the Almighty, was dwelling in him. Yet because of his humanity, he felt everything! Every whip, every insult, every nail, every betrayal. He felt it all!

I wonder how many sermons will go forth tomorrow that will actually leave us at the cross. As one of my professors would say, "stay at the cross, deal with the cross!" So often we want to go to resurrection (don’t get me wrong, I am glad He Lives), but it something about staying there with Jesus through the pain and difficulties of the cross.You can shout at the cross, but deal with the anguish of Christ going to the cross on behalf of a world that turned their backs on him. It is Good Friday for us, but surely it wasn't for Christ!

 What is there to cherish?  There must be a deep appreciation for what Christ did at dark Calvary. Maybe tomorrow could be a time of recognizing our sinful nature, which includes the deep institutionalized sins of the Church.  I know this may not get the crowd jumping up and down, but maybe it will move us to a place of true reconciliation with one another and those the church has ostracized, so that we all may partake in the Glorious resurrection as a reconciled people, to God and to one to another.  Is that not the burden the cross places on us?  Is that not why we cherish the ol’ rugged cross? Is that not why we anticipate crown of glory?  Yes it is full of suffering and shame, however; it’s the cross we bear for the sake of Christ and each other.

The Old Rugged Cross (Words & Music: George Ben­nard)
v1. On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
v2. O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
 (check this video out... )

Cherish and Cling to the Cross,

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lenten Series #36: Spring Break Service Trip - Top/Iron Chef

One blessing of the trip was many of our meals were hosted by groups or individuals from the Atlanta area.  So usually during these trips, the group would have to cook dinner each night.  But the way it worked this year we only had to cook for two of the eight nights.  So I thought about it… And then it hit me let us do a “top chef/iron chef” competition. We would break up into two groups and they would have to decide their menu (3courses) and shop on a budget, and prepare the meal within 1.5hrs.  Since we had two days, one group would cook on Monday and the other on Tuesday. The group not cooking had free time during the preparation, however; they would be responsible for the games/icebreaker activity for after dinner. The students were ecstatic about this idea and could not wait to get it going.

I talked it over with Elizabeth (whose church we were using) and she suggested instead of having a particular ingredient, make it theme based.  The two easiest to think of and that would be familiar to everyone were Italian and Mexican.  Sunday evening we began the process. When it came to breaking up the groups we put everyone’s name in a cup and alternated with the picking. I then gave them an index card that had their “secret theme” on it. Group 1 had Mexican and Group 2 , Italian.  They were given 30minutes to plan their menus and to prepare their grocery list.  They were given a budget of $45 for ten people, which were also to include our beverages.

They also decided to compare list among the two groups to decide what they could purchase together in order to conserve.  After we planned the menu  we headed back to our sleeping quartered, and eventually made our way to  the 24hour Wal-Mart. It was about 10:45pm, and everyone was given 30minutes in the store before they had to meet me at the cashier.  The two groups had to shop, plus 1 person had to get our breakfast foods, and  two others had to get everything we needed for lunches, while I took care of our snacks and miscellaneous items for the week.  It was great watching them run up and down the aisles trying to get what they needed and meet us before their time was up.  Each group actually came close to their budget limit, but did not go over. Also, it was great seeing them work together. It was a very healthy competition even til the end.  It was interesting how the groups panned out. Group #1 had two strong characters who had to learn how to work together in the kitchen and understand that the meal had to come together and was not about their individual dishes, but he collective experience.

They kept asking me who won. I kept pushing it off because I know how folks get when they are criticized, and when you have to choose a winner amongst them. And I was clearly not just going to say everyone wins! So I finally told them while at dinner at Elizabeth’s on Friday who won and gave constructive criticism of their meals. (Yes, momma didn’t raise no fool, I waited til the last day).

On Monday (Mexican Night) the menu was:
Nachos (appetizer), pan fried breaded chicken, and vegetable fried rice (main course) strawberry smoothes (desert)

On Tuesday (Italian Night) the menu was:
Bruschetta (appetizer), Chicken Parmesan w/spaghetti noodles (main course) strawberry filled glazed cupcakes (desert)

Group #2 won the competition because of the extra work they put into the appetizers and dessert and their usage of the dining room décor in which we ate (e.g. sitting us under the chandelier, utilizing real plate-ware, etc.).What another great part of our trip together.  This activity provided another way for bonding to take place. It also was essential for each team member to work in unity and bring their own gifts to the table to help enhance the overall presentation of the group. Another reason why I love my job…being able to utilize unconventional techniques to provide teaching moments for my students. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Lenten Series #35: Passover Seder

This evening I had the opportunity to share in the Passover Seder, hosted by our Rabbi and my coworker, Howie along with his wife Debbie. What a great time of fellowship, learning, and sharing with a few members of the Grinnell Jewish community. I had never participated in a Seder celebration, and was pleasantly surprised at how much of the language of the liturgy translated into my own Christian understanding of Passover, and of God. There were some clear distinction  (eg, language that surrounded the desire for the coming of  the Messiah who has yet to come), but for the most part I felt a deep connection to the service, and was  fully able to worship and see the God of Israel as the same God of my ancestors. There was a key part of the liturgy that stood out to me. There were clear emphasizes on seeing the Passover as a celebration of not just the past, but he present and the future.  I went not knowing what to expect, and found myself in the midst of great people, celebrating a Great God! 

This experience got me to thinking... our churches are celebrating holy week, but many of us never fully take time to observe Passover, as Jesus did before he was taken to the cross. In our desire to be like Christ, we often forget to acknowledge his heritage as a Jewish man.  As I sat at the table, sang song in the Hebrew alliteration, and /or listened to the prayers lifted by those who spoke Hebrew. As I read the English translation, as we broke the matzo (unleavened bread), I could not help but feel a deeper connection with Jesus, who in human flesh dwelt among us as a Jew.  I thought about Jesus and the host of ancestors who have come before us. As we sat around the table, I thought of Easter dinner when my grandmother was alive, and how she served as a testament of the love of God through generations. I honor and respect Passover as a Jewish tradition, but I also recognized the same God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt , is the same God who  brought black folks out of enslavement, and continues to set free/liberates those who remain in a variety of bondages. Just as we often forget that Jesus was a Jew, we at times neglect to recognize our own heritage and how integral it is in who we are.

This got me to think about another part of the Seder liturgy that intrigued me. There was a clear call for each of us to go forth and be the Liberators.  I left knowing that the God that empowered Moses to go to Pharaoh, is the same God who has empowered me to Go and set the captives free by standing up to the modern day Pharaoh (whatever/whomever they may be).  In the liturgy we used, it actually called for the singing of a spiritual that I knew quite well, “Go Down Moses” (probably the only time that I was able to sing with confidence). I leave you with these words, and with this question… Did God not move for the Jewish People? Did God not move for the Black People? Will God not move for You?  Will you not GO?

When Israel was in Egypt's land,
let my people go;
oppressed so hard they could not stand,
let my people go.
Go down, (go down) Moses, (Moses)
way down in Egypt's land;
tell old Pharaoh
to let my people go!

2. "Thus saith the Lord," bold Moses said,
let my people go;
"if not, I'll smite your first-born dead,"
let my people go.

3. No more shall they in bondage toil,
let my people go;
let them come out with Egypt's spoil,
let my people go.

4. We need not always weep and mourn,
let my people go;
and wear those slavery chains forlorn,
let my people go.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Monday, March 29, 2010

Lenten Series #34: Spring Break Service Trip - Friendship

When planning this trip, I depended on friendships that I have developed over the years. There were many people helped to make last week successful. It was great because I only had to make calls and folks came through in big ways. For instance, the church we stayed in was the church of a grad school friend.  She serves as Associate pastor and Minister to the youth. She allowed us to stay in the youth center which was adjacent to the main church building. She was very hospitable and even hosted us at her home for dinner on Friday. There were so many friends who offered their services last week. They engaged with my students by sharing and listening to them as they grappled with the issues at hand.  When I am at in Grinnell it is hard sometimes to remember all the friendships that I have made through the years. My mother taught me a long time ago to never burn bridges because one day you just may need them. Returning to ATL reminds me of how God has placed people in my life and although we may be far, the friendships remain and are cherished just as though we were in the same city all the time.  I know I posted these thank you’s on my facebook page, but I think it is appropriate to highlight them here as well…

Thanks to Elizabeth Lobello, for hosting us at her church and her home, She is a great friend!!! Thanks to James Henry Alexander, Katrina Moore, Jason Myers, and my Baptist colleagues for sponsoring a lunch for us. And thanks to my other Candler friends who came to the lunch and shared with my students (Katie Klosterman, Juana Jordan, Quentin Samuels). Special thanks to one of my favorite professors, Dr. Gregory C. Ellison II for your wisdom and sincerity as he shared with us! They are still raving about his presentation and your thoughtfulness. Thanks to Joseph McBrayer and Emory's Wesley students for hosting us for afternoon snacks. Ann Kathryn Bass-Lister and Ron Lister for connecting us and hosting us with Open Door Community. Thanks to Shannon Gatewood for sharing public/mental health issues around homelessness, and Amanda Garvin for sharing dinner with us on Friday. There were people who helped me initially as I decided what places we would go (Dianna Williams And Carmen Thompson, and my friends who responded to my FB request through a status update). Last but not least, I also want to thank my boss (Deanna Shorb) for supporting me and giving me leeway with the planning and implementing of this project. Also to Cheryl Fleener-Seymour (our Admin Assistant) for your encouragement and help with logistics, I am indeed grateful. If I am missing someone, please charge it to my head not my heart. THANK YOU ALL!

Before we arrived and during our stay in Atlanta, I tried to emphasize to my students the importance of maintaining a good name so that people will want to help you when the time comes. I don’t take for granted the blessing of having wonderful people in my life.
When it comes to friends, I never really had just one set of friends. Over the course of my life, I have found that the Almighty has surrounded me with many friends. There were times when I had a few close friends, but for the most part my friendship circle has been wide and continues to be stretched far. Plus occasional, You know... the church friends, school friends, seminarian friends,  science/math friends, black friends, white friends, international friends, brothers, sisters, organizational friends, etc. When asked to describe my friendship circle, I would always say that there was never one person you could call to find out what I was up to. I have tried to stay out of cliques while continuing to make new friends. The hard part of this is that it at times gets lonely. I find that I have to call people rather than being called.  Living in Grinnell is hard because I really don’t have those close friends as I had back in Atlanta and Baltimore.  My co-workers are great, but it is hard being the only black single young (under 30) professional.  Nevertheless, my trip to Atlanta gave me strength and a reminder of the many friends I do have and how blessed I truly am. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lenten Series #33: Spring Break Service Trip - Traveling

It’s true, have not blogged in a few days because our days were long and exhaustive.  I decided this week; I would double up on my bogging (especially since this in my week off). Instead of having one blog detailing everything we did during the service trip or outlining each day, I will use the blogs to present a few themes that stood out during the week.  

We arrived safely back to Grinnell late Saturday evening. What a drive! We flew by way of Kansas City but had to drive like 4 hours back to Grinnell.  The weather initially was cold and rainy in Kansas City, but as we headed back the rain stopped and it was actually very nice once we got into Iowa.  I must have had a great sleep on the plane because I was able to drive a lil over three hours straight. I normally have to stop at like the 2hr mark. I think it was a combination of having good sleep on the plane, and the students who returned kept lively conversations going. I could probably go all four hours, but it had become dark, we were hungry, and I knew that a break would not be a bad idea. Not all the students returned to Grinnell. The great thing about our spring break is that it is TWO WEEKS!! How exciting! The Chaplain’s Office Spring Break Service trip is also unique because the alternative break service trips are for the entire two weeks, but our office only does one week of service, so that the participants can have a break during the second week. This is also why I am taking this upcoming week off, and I am ecstatic! So some of the students caught flights from either ATL or Kansas City, and some had friends or were from those areas so they went their separate ways at the airports. We had grown so close over the week that everyone was hugging and giving heartfelt goodbye. It was very cute and exciting and made me smile.  I am even considering hosting reunion dinner at my apartment for them either near the end of the semester or the beginning of the next academic year.

I find when I drive with others in the car I drive more cautious and a lil nervous.  It was exacerbated by the fact that I was driving a 12 passenger van. It went well, but I do wish that I did not have to drive and could have spent more time in travel getting to know my students.  They kept me entertained. I was excited that they constantly switched up who would ride “shotgun”. This person was also given control of the radio, so we listened to a variety of music. they also were responsible for helping me with directions. I am grateful that my friend Elizabeth allowed us to use her GPS, but there were a few times when we still got lost.  For this reason i tried my best to be sure we gave ourselves enough travel time. The students did not understand this fully.  they thought i had them getting up early for no reason, neglecting to think about what it meant to be stuck in ATL traffic and also how I am responsible for their safety.  I did not realize the stress that i would have to take on in order to be sure we arrived where we needed to go and that everyone arrived in one piece.  Nevertheless, we made it to everything and there were no major injuries during the week. I was prepared though. We had their emergency contact sheets and even copies of their medical cards, in just in case something crazy went down.  But thanks be to God, All went well.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lenten Series #32: Spring Break Service Trip III

What a day! I woke up a lil cold because I think the church heat cuts
off at a certain time at night, but it was good because I woke up at
630am, got a shower and mentally prepared myself for the day's journey.
We visited Ebenezer Baptist. I did not know this before wee visited but
it was their 124th church anniversary. I think that experience was great
for the students. It was a lil long so we left right after the sermon.
Raphael Warnock , their pastor , did not preach because they had a guest
who happened to be one of his mentors.

The handbell choir ministered through bell ringing and the dance
ministry accompanied the musical worship of one of Ebenezer new members,
Jennifer Holiday. YES the original DreamGirls, Jennifer Holiday!!! She
sang and sang some more. She did an arrangement of Come Sunday by Duke
Ellington and then gave her own testimony through the old skool
Spiritual "How I Got Over". What a blessing she brings to Ebenezer and
brought to those of us visiting.

Several others things happened today that is noteworthy. We had lunch at
Mary Macs, a southern cuisine restaurant where we had good southern
sunday dinner. A good friend of mine Shannon joined us for lunch and
she talked with us about how her graduate work in public health at Emory
and how mental health is and should be a deep concern when addressing

Later that evening we gathered with the youth of our host church in
Douglassville. We played 4squares with them (which was a new game for
most of my Grinnell students), had an evening meal, then we talked to
them about why we are here this week and about college life in general.

There is more to this day, but I am falling asleep as I type this by way
of my phone. Maybe illl update tomorrow.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lenten Series #31: Spring Break Service Trip II

We just landed in ATL. Let me say, I don't know what is happening in the
midwest with weather, but it best be spring when we get back next week!
I am writing this while we are taxing the runway (but prob won't post
til later. I am grateful for the students who have taken this journey
with me. I pray that this trip is empowering for them in many ways. I
am also grateful for the people who have helped make this trip possible.
From my coworkers and boss at Grinnell, to those who will host us in
different ways. I am thrilled by what God I going to do.

Traveling today was insane. I was extremely nervous as I drove on icy
roads as snow, yes I said it, SNOW, came down beginning in Grinnell
where it continued to follow us (or we followed it) to Kansas City
(where we flew from to get to ATL). The weather was crazy but the
students were great. They made sure all luggage was taken care of and
they have been doing an awesome job self-governing themselves out of

When we arrived to the church we are staying our host Elizabeth greeted
us. It was great seeing Elizabeth!! I am excited and grateful that she
agreed to host us at the church is has been appointed to in
Douglasville. As I drove from the airport car rental spot (which is new
to ATL, nice, and annoying all at the same time) I thought and
reminisced the great times I had in ATL via Candler/Emory. The many
friends, the great professors, the dialogues, comraderies, challenges.

Please pray for this experience. This is not a religious gathering,
rather a social justice initiative But I, being who I am, cannot do
such work without hearing Jesus voice as he talked to Peter at the end
of the Gospel of John, "If you love me, feed my sheep!". I pray that as
we tend to God's children this week that we be forever reminded that our
love for God is and must be tied up with our love for all of humanity.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Friday, March 19, 2010

Lenten Series #30: ACPA - TFSFR

ACPA convention began today. I announced earlier via facebook that I was elected to the directorate for the Task Force for Spirituality, Faith, and Religion. This is one of two national organizations for professionals within student affairs/higher education. American College Personnel Association (ACPA) is also known as College students educators International.  I joined ACPA in the fall before attending a workshop that they offered.  I enjoyed the workshop and thought I would get more involved in ACPA.   
 Once they sent me my membership information I began joining committees.  I joined several which included the Task Force on Spirituality, Faith, and Religion (TFSFR), Commission for Housing and Residential Life, Commission for Social Justice Educators, Commission for Multicultural Affairs. The one that interest me the most was the task force. I was curious as to why it was a task force and not a commission. Come to find out, they are seeking to be recognized as a commission, but since it is newly formed, they must go through the proper channels. After joining all the subgroups I began receiving emails galore. I was excited because emails came from people all around the world, and I saw myself as being connected to many who do the work of serving students as I do.
 In the beginning/middle of January I received an email form the taskforce chairperson, saying they were looking for members to run for the directorate. It was January, so students had not yet arrived to campus, thus I had a clear mind. So I sent them my letter of intent to run for a spot on the directorate. The election was held mid-Feb and I received the results by the end of February.  I have been so busy with many things that I had not had the opportunity to digest this and put it all in perspective. Why this task force? Why now?  So I went back to my letter of intent and realized the answers for me remained true:

My name is Michael A. Hunt, and I'm seeking to serve the ACPA community as an elected member of TFSFR's directorate board. I am new to ACPA for I have just found my calling to serve students within higher education. I am currently the Lilly Fellow in Religious Life and Residence Life Coordinator at Grinnell College. In the past year, I've graduated from Emory University with my Masters of Divinity where I also served as Graduate Assistant Chaplain and Chapel Assistant for the Office of Religious Life. I desire to assist with fulfilling the mission of TFSFR as we seek to become a commission of ACPA. We must be informed and educated on the many levels of promoting pluralism for religion and belief within higher education. I bring a new energy and sincere appreciation for the meaning-making that currently exist and should be further examined in the work we do as college student educators. We take serious the work of spiritual and religious development, and the meaning-making of our students and our communities, and I am confident that as a collaborative and intentional educator, I can continue to foster this same spirit as member of the TFSFR directorate.

Let’s be honest… It is not too many of us black folks represented on committees/commissions within ACPA. I hope that my experience will be a blessing to those I share these duties with. I hope to learn much and gain insight that will help me better serve students and the entire community in Grinnell and wherever I end up next. One of my mentors and colleague,  sent me an email today  emphasizing great it is that I am taking steps to be active because  the two major conventions (ACPA and NASPA) have lacked “the Black Church Perspective”  when talking about spirituality. Therefore, I hope this work will bring me closer to connecting the black church experience to that of how we approach spirituality, faith and religion  as colleges student educators. In addition, it is my desire that all the work described within this task force  would not just be left up to the Chaplain's Office or the Office of Religious Life within our colleges ,but that  every student affairs professional, every professor, administrator and staff person will find their place in recognizing that in some way we all are part of the spiritual/ faith/religious formation of our students.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lenten Series #29: My Earthly Father

Today in the office, I had a wonderful conversation with a student and a fellow staff member. It started off talking about taxes and me JOKING about needing a kid so that I could get some of those tax credits. The conversation somehow evolved into the realm of “family”.
I found my self disclosing some facts about my life, in particular about my father. I look at the beauty of children and can’t imagine how a father (not just mine) could leave his child. I  sometimes forget that I had a father, or a sperm-donator, because I have no record of him being in my life. I was raised in a single family home, father had another family so he did not want to have anything to do with me (actually denied me until a test was given in court). He paid child support until I was eighteen; lived in the same city, but not a word. I could have been riding the bus with him and would not have ever known. My mother never kept details away from me, and I know if I had pursued wanting to find my father she would have been supportive because she told me where he probably was. But I had no desire. 
 Nevertheless today, I sometimes wonder, what life would have been like if he had been around. I wonder sometimes about what lessons he would have taught me and what things he would have done for me. His name is Henry Parker; yeah I am putting him on blast! Hahaha.  If you know him, tell him that I said “Hi” and that God brought many people to fill the void he left in my life. And let "Pete" know (yes that is what they call him lol), God built Sherry with such an amazing backbone and spirit to raise me well. One day i hope to meet him, but until then I will continue to pray for him and his family and my bitterness.  LOL
The other staff member reminded us that every part of our family history is part of our personal journey. For me this journey has not been easy, but knowing that God has been there the entire time makes it all worth it. For me God has been Father.
Since being in seminary, I have come to appreciate what is known as “inclusive language’, seeing and referring to God in many ways beyond masculine pronouns.Sometimes people take the other extreme and utilize only feminine pronouns, which if is always done yields the same results, a limited God. Often I try to stay away from God has he or Father because we use it so much that it pigeonholes God from being more. But in the context of this particular blog, God had been Father to the Fatherless. And so with a deep sincere prayer, I cry out just as the ol’ Baptist deacons would line:
“Father, I stretch, my hands to thee, no other help I know, if thou withdraws thyself from me, O whether I shall go!”

I can then hear them moaning…
“ I came to Jesus, jus’ as I was, wearied, wounded, and sad, but I found in Him a resting place, and He has made me glad!”

My earthly father may have been pitiful, but God stepped in and turned my mourning into dancing! Blessed be The LORD!!

 Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lenten Series #28: Caring for Our Students

This week our students are in the midst of midterms, affectionately known as “Hell Week”. They are very stressed because of papers and exams, and readings that are due in the midst of the papers and exams, and let’s not forget the general issues of life that can be stressful for a teenager/young adult.Their classes can be extremely demanding and on top of that I have heard that many professors don’t stick to the syllabus. You may think that is a good thing because your experience may be like mine where professors didn’t stick to the syllabus but took things away or adjusting dates to accommodate for the stressfulness of life. But not here at Grinnell. Many students talk about how their professors add reading and other assignments that are made to be due on the very next class period. Now, I am not saying it is all the professors but it is clear that some need a wake call and a reminder that they were once students as well. This is indeed a wellness issue and I hope some will stand up and continue being advocates for the overall well being of our students. This is a very touchy subject on this campus because the classroom at Grinnell seems to be “sacred”, and just from my few months here I notice at times for our student there are disconnects from the reality of life and the rigor of the classroom.

As a staff person that has students staff report to me, I constantly remind myself that I was once a student, and since I am a life-long learner, I remain a student. Therefore I recognize that there are some things about time management and self responsibility that I expect from my staff, but I balance that knowing life happens, and like they say “shit happens”, so I am mindful of their needs, physically (always providing snacks during meetings), mentally (asking how they are doing) and spiritually (encouraging them to find and utilize their own spiritual practice). I wish, better yet, I pray that we as faculty and staff continue to support every aspect of their being so that when it comes time for them to leave us, they will leave appreciating their entire journey. Don't get me wrong, i  don't have the answers on how to see this happen  (I am still learning),  but one thing i have learned from my students is that it is important that we as staff and faculty examine our role in the insanity that is happening on our campus when it comes to the stress and mental stability of our students. 

Now, imagine if Jesus was used as the pedagogical model within the academy. Jesus not only taught his disciples, but fully integrated himself as part of the community. He ate with them, shared his life with them. He admonished them, yet he loved them. And his teachings remained at the heart of his disciples’ journey. We hear it loud in clear from Peter in Acts 2:40 “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Is this not the same message Jesus proclaimed, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17

I am convinced that if we care for the whole aspect of our students we would have provided them with the tools of being mindful of their needs as well-balanced individual. I know it is a better way to say this; hopefully I can come back and reword what I am trying to say.

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Lenten Series #27: Without Words

I have nothing to say today.  Very weird, ! know.  I have been extremely busy with preparation for our spring break trip while still preparing  for events this week on campus, and meeting with students who are of concern. Maybe tomorrow i will have something fresh to share, but tonight i find myself with out words.  My days have been long, my  rest has been short, but i am indeed grateful for what God has and continues to bless me with. 

I  want to say one thing though... I do pray for many friends who are in the midst of standing before boards seeking ordination, and/or jobs for post graduation. As I told recently told one of my past roommates: 
I pray that God moves on your behalf.  I pray that you continue being courageous, honest,  and dynamic in only the ways that you can. I pray that the Almighty  guides your thoughts and the thoughts of those who you will stand before. And finally, I pray that when it is all said and done that no matter what you continue knowing that you are called, and knowing Who has already called you!

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Lenten Series #26: Pre- Spring Break Update I

I feel really busy! This is the week before spring break and it seems that every hour of my day is planned out. Either by meetings or things i need to get down before we head out for break. The first week of break i will be taking a nine students to Atlanta, Georgia as a service trip to examine and focus on the issue of homelessness. We have a full schedule of projects planned (minus two days that i am still working on). I am extremely excited!  This excitement stems form not just going to ATL to do work, but because of the group of students I am taking are phenomenal! Next week, I will try to blog while in Atlanta but that may be difficult.   The quote that is guiding our trip is simply:
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together." -Lilla Watson, Australian Aboriginal Elder and Activist speaking to missionaries. 

This is the focus I would like our students to have as we navigate the waters of homelessness.  It is important to realize that we are not free to all are free and homelessness is a bondage that many of our brothers and sisters are facing. Don't get me wrong helping is necessary, but i think what Lila was saying was that firs the realization of the link of our liberation will change the way you help and they way you treat me and the way you interact with me. When we work together the power dynamics shift. You don't see yourself better than me, and thus i am no longer invisible but seen as an integral part of the team. 

Now imagine if the church took this approach. Imagine if we begun working with folks and being part of the team and not looking to just help or seeking recognition. Imagine if titles were not a big deal, but instead set ourselves free from the bondage of self-promotion and power gluttony.  Goodnight!

Peace, Love and Prosperity, 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lenten Series #25: Music Provides a Glimmer of Hope

This weekend, I got the chance to go to part of a campus concert featuring our college Orchestra.  At first, I did not know the concert was happening (so much happens on campus that you some times forget about other aspects of campus life). I decided to go because I was invited javascript:void(0)by a student I met randomly while eating dinner at the dining hall last week. He and a friend were sitting down and I recognized their faces from being around campus but did not know them until that day. They both had already known my name and that I was one of the RLCs. The friend also had heard me speak earlier that week at the Intervarsity student community worship. 

During dinner we got to talking about religion and what it means to be Christian on this campus.  It was a great discussion and very theologically stimulating (something I have been missing since leaving seminary). Following this discussion I asked about his major, he told me he wanted to do music, but the music department here is very much  theory-based and not experimental-based. In other words, they want him to follow all the music rules, but he wants to improvise and create new masterpieces by making new laws/rules. So he decided that he will continue music as a passion but not as a major. That is when he invited me to the concert where he was the featured pianist. He would be accompanied by the orchestra. in the bulletin it mentioned that "He really enjoyed playing piano when he began improvising on it, because it allows his imagination to run free once again."

Because I was on-call all weekend, there were a few things I had to take care of on Saturday afternoon before getting to the concert. But I got to the recital hall just in time to hear him. I had never been to any music recital and at first I was lost as to where in our performing arts building the recital was being held.  When I found it and I was relieved and sat on the back row, right next to our College President, Russell. The student who invited me was next on the program, so as we waited I had small-chat with Russell and some of the students in front of me.  The stage was being reset,  they brought the grand piano to the front of the stage, the orchestra got tuned up, and we waited for a second, the door open, and the audience begun to applaud because here comes the featured student pianist, followed the professor/conductor.  he took his seat, and after getting comfortable, he nodded to the conductor and the selection began, Beethoven's "Concerto for Piano No 1 in C, Op. 15".

I immediately had a flashback of the many concerts I  enjoyed  as a child at Baltimore Symphony Orchestra because of my mother’s connection with Morgan State University. The contrast was, the Baltimore Orchestra were adults, professionals. But then I begun to think that these students, the celloists, the violinists, the featured pianist, would some day be those professionals and I was in awe!  They were amazing and he did an outstanding job! To think that in ten or so they may be playing for the world’s best orchestras and leading symphonies, and some of them are going to be doctors, lawyers, scientist,  who have a love and passion for music and  will continue that passion while saving the world in their different and unique ways.  How exciting is this! A glimmer of hope for me as I have had along weekend, dealing with crazy students who don’t know how to control their alcohol usage! (Ughhhh!)

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lenten Series #24: On-Call

This weekend I am on-call and there are several big parties on campus. I think I am going to bed now so that in case i am called in the middle of the night, i will be sane.  This is one part of my job that i am not a fan of.  Although it gives me training on handling emergency situations and crisis management, i just don't like being awaken in the middle of the night!  Yes i know that if i was a pastor early morning/late night emergency calls happen more frequently.  That is why i am a fan of ministries having on-call rotation so that the pastor is not the only one dealing with such situations.  I think i might come back at some point and expound on this, but right now i am calling it a night. 

Peace, Love, and Prosperity, 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Lenten Series #23: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

Yesterday, the students invited some local farmers toc ampus and had a small bizarre where you could purchase local foods. I ended up buying some fresh honey and a jar of apple butter. I am hoping to join their local food share program, especially during the summer because the dining hall is closed.  

The honey was awesome!!  Plus, he said that it never spoils. I thought when it crystallized the honey was no longer any good. He told me to run the bottle under warm/hot water and you are good to go (only recommended that with the organic, fresh honey). I laughingly said, “Ohh right this is the good stuff, not that store brought stuff!”, and he responded” Well it is not processed, but I really want to get it in the stores.”  

Just from that statement I was made me aware of my ignorance.  The farmers don’t want to only sell at bizarre or local farms gatherings, but in the marketplace. I thought he would have a chip on his shoulder about the markets or the larger processing plants or that he was doing this as a side job(which he is, but he wants more). What I heard was that he wants to be connected to a place where he could provide his goods to a larger pool of consumers.

Today for dinner I had leftovers!! Frozen leftovers that I thawed. I have quite a few meals bagged I the freezer.  I think I get this habit from one of my adopted grandmothers. We call her Dollbaby. Every time I come in town or stopped by their house, she could always whip up a meal from leftovers, and I always left satisfied.  “Let me see what I got down in the freezer” she would say. I honestly appreciate this habit because since i am cooking only for me now, I seem to always have plenty of leftovers (especially because I shoop economically) and instead of trying to eat it all or throwing it away (spoiled in the refrigerator), I bag them up, label with date, and put it in the freezer!  This has indeed helped me to save money and this habit will continue until I am as rich as Bill Gates ( by the way, he is no longer the riches person I the world!!)

Tomorrow, our black student group is having a soul-food potluck. I am scheduled to make macaroni and cheese. i think I am going to also try to make carrot soufflé. We shall see how it goes. I am happy for them that they are doing this and so I volunteered to help. I love cooking and more importantly when people enjoy my cooking. 

Moreover, The food on campus is bland and missing the soul. As I miss being in Baltimore and Atlanta, I also miss the sharing and fellowshipping that happened with friends and family as we cooked together and feasted together.  I will probably  cook in my apartment (because I have the capacity to and not to utilize all the smaller  space they have for cooking)  and then take the prepared items over to where the student are cooking,  and spend some time with them as they put the soul in the food!

Peace, Love, and Prosperity,