“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
A year ago today I nervously awaited the email that would tell me where I would spend the next year of my life. January 11, 2010 was placement day for the ELCA Horizon program. Representatives from all eight seminaries got together to decide which twelve lucky seminarians would get to take one of the Horizon internship sites.
I remember opening the email and scanning quickly for the indented line in the middle of the page that said the congregation and city. I found it, and my first thought was, “Syracuse, where’s that?” In the Horizon program, you list five potential sites you would be interested in going to. Atonement had made my list because of its reputation for excellent urban ministry, a diversity of worship experiences, the opportunity to work part-time with a Presbyterian congregation, and a supervisor who believed in hands-on ministry education. But the experience of listing five places you might want to move to and trying to actually imagine yourself in one of those places could not be more different. Just because I had listed Atonement on my list of potential placements did not mean I had any idea what I was getting myself into.
A year later, and I cannot imagine a place where I would have learned and grown and changed as much as I have in just four months in this place. I absolutely believe that, as arbitrary as it can feel at times, God truly does have a hand in the internship placement process. Is Atonement perfect? No. Is it difficult? Yes, absolutely, every day is a challenge. Many days I wish I was anywhere but Syracuse, NY in the middle of winter. But there is something in this place that I am meant to learn, and there is something in me that I am supposed to offer to this place. It is hard, but it is a good hard, a growing hard.