“Blessing” is a powerful word and a life-altering concept. In our increasingly divided and sometimes toxic society, blessings that are both experienced and shared are a salve on the wounds and pain we experience in life.

Webster defines “blessing” as a beneficial thing for which one is grateful, or more appropriately, God’s favor and protection. Words associated with “blessing,” according to the same source, include grace, mercy, favor, and kindness. All these are enriching and transformational to our lives.

Davis & Elkins College Professor Dr. Mary Ann DeLuca and I met in 2016.  Not long after, Mary Ann told me of a statement attributed to D&E alumnus Hank Steinbrecher ‘71 who said of this unique college nestled in the Randolph County mountains that “D&E is a blessed place.” According to Mary Ann, what he meant was that when a need arose or a challenge was encountered, God put the right person in place to address that issue. As I have led Davis & Elkins College these past five years, I have never forgotten the wisdom imparted by Hank.

For all reading these words, I challenge you to think back over the time you have been associated with this institution and consider the challenges that have been faced.  Year after year and decade after decade, the right people have been in the right place at the right time to overcome obstacles and foster the transformative educational experience for which D&E is known. How fortunate to be a part of a blessed place! Is there any wonder we have high expectations for our future?

This past weekend two events on campus reminded me of Hank’s words of wisdom. On Saturday we had the largest open house for prospective students in the past five years.  As I was addressing these potential Senators and their families, I spoke of the deep respect and admiration I have developed for the people who comprise the D&E community, specifically faculty, staff, Trustees, alumni, and especially students. Living and learning together, we discover gifts and graces in abundance that enable us to pursue distinction and excellence, and face challenges with conviction and creativity. That is the very definition of a place that is blessed.

On Sunday I spoke at the dedication of the Gloria Marquette Payne Memorial Garden on campus.  Gathering with Dr. Payne’s family, among others, we remembered and gave thanks for the blessing that was Gloria for more than seven decades to this campus community. Legions of former students would attest Dr. Payne, the right person at the right time, was a blessing to them during their days on campus and well beyond.

For those of us who are part of the D&E community and have experienced this blessed place, we now assume a responsibility. As a loved one of mine was fond of saying, we are blessed to be a blessing. The responsibility now lies with us to live our lives and direct our actions in such a way that others experience blessing through us.

Experiencing a blessed place makes for a blessed journey. Fortunately, that journey full of blessings continues….

Chris A. Wood
Davis & Elkins College