First Lady urges Wake Forest audience to live fully in light of national crisis

Mary EasleyNorth Carolina First Lady Mary Easley urged the audience at Wake Forest University’s Opening Convocation not to live in fear during this time of national crisis, but to be inspired to live more fully.

Easley, a graduate of Wake Forest’s undergraduate college and law school, spoke at the university’s 167th convocation held Sept. 13 in Wait Chapel. Her speech alluded to Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in the United States.

Easley said Americans are still wrestling with questions about why evil exists in the world and why sorrow is such an integral part of living. In the midst of questions like these, she said, we must realize that tragedy can serve a higher purpose than to cause suffering and sorrow. Tragedy also reminds us to live better lives, to reconcile hurts and right wrongs, and to take care of one another.

“Every tragedy, every moment of inexplicable pain, every minute of sorrow, every one of life’s risks that we confront is really the wrapping around a gift for us,” Easley said. “It is at once a gift of redemption for us as we share the best part of ourselves with another, and the fulfillment of a promise from a loving God. It is a perpetually renewing opportunity wrapped in risk.”

Easley said she believes that opportunity is a challenge to live outside one’s comfort zone.

“Those around us who enjoy successful lives, complete lives, full lives, know that risk and opportunity are inexorably linked,” she said. “We are forced out of our comfort zone to confront the truth. And what is the truth? Life dangles by a thread. Life is a miracle and a mystery. Life is precious and fleeting.”

Easley said she learned to take risks during her studies at Wake Forest as an undergraduate and a law student. When she became a successful state prosecutor, she learned to embrace fear and seize opportunities outside her comfort zone. She said she had to overcome a paralyzing fear of risking her reputation on each case she tried.

“I learned that assuming the risks embedded in the act of living develops confidence in your ability to grow, change and adapt to the vicissitudes of life,” said Easley, professor of law at N.C. Central University. “And when you find a pursuit that feeds your soul, one that you find important and worthy of you, you will embrace life and risk and opportunity freely without thought of where your comfort zone begins and ends. You will, in fact, be free to soar. “

Categories: Speakers