Dr. Stephen Aizenstat serves as Chancellor of Pacifica Graduate Institute, which he served as Founding President. Reflections from the Chancellor collects Steve’s posts to Pacifica’s growing family of alums.
The home-coming is upon us
| originally posted on 10 Aug 2012
I am on the plane returning from my visit to New Orleans that my colleague Dianne Travis-Teague has described so beautifully in her recent blog. Let me again tell you how extraordinary Dianne tends to alumni and alumnae. Her compassion, capacity to listen, knack for problem-solving, and ability to create beautiful venues for interaction lives at the center of the Pacifica dream. Combined with Southern hospitality, not only were Pacifica alums “hosted” with grace and style, so too were others in our field who attended the conference organized by the Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies. And, I might add, the staff of the Bourbon Orleans Hotel, as well, felt a sense of deep empathic regard. These folks are still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina, and what it all means to them personally, to friends and family, and to their beloved community.
What we heard from alums was similar to what we hear everywhere we go when hosting receptions and events. Graduates — as well as students in their dissertation or thesis process — express a deeply felt sense of longing, a wish to be re-united with their “tribe.” Folks talk about wanting to feel part of an engaged “movement” birthed from the traditions of Depth Psychology, Mythology, and the Humanities. Of course, helping one another professionally and personally is important and desired, yet there exists something more, something un-nameable, something “invisible.”
What folks continue to talk about is the value of living a soul-centered life, one that is animated by imagination and compassion. We are told time and again that this quality of being — “the unseen” — is, in part, cultivated by their Pacifica experience. In scholarship, in their interactions with faculty and staff, as well as in their experience of the spirit of place alive in the campus landscapes, folks come together sharing a common knowledge: that poetic Psyche has a life of her own, bringing us together in ways yet fully revealed.
Now having attended many of these gatherings, I can say without hesitation that there is a sense of “home-coming,” a feeling of “deep belonging.” For me, it is a privilege to be with a community of people who embody in their personhood as well as in their professional work the soul-spark alive in our common calling, of tending the soul of and in the world.
Hey, in New Orleans, the food was good, the music great, and the conference presentations honed and “on the edge” of what is “becoming,” in the field we care so deeply for, a tradition filled with the figures of the blood soul who, in turn, care so mindfully for each of us. To be part of a Pacifica Alumni/ae Association event opens the heart and touches the excitement of the “new.” As events unfold I look forward to seeing each of you in your hometown or region. And, of course, there is no place like home: When next in Santa Barbara, see ya around campus, a place that will forever be grateful for your presence.