Monday, April 30, 2012
-choosing to take classes like Greek and Pentateuch online rather than to stay longer in Chicago or traveling back and forth more times
-hearing about something like playing football or basketball or a great party idea you can only go if it matches when you are already around or willing to drive back in.
-and if something scheduled is canceled like basketball for a floor cleaning or a mandatory meeting has been put in the wrong date, you have showed up for nothing and probably canceled something else
-your spouse or partner cannot always attend things because it is not feasible for two cars to come to something or
-it feels like you have two lives
-many meetings and classes let out or begin right around rush hour
-you are odd man out as those things you missed for work or family, are now the birthplaces of inside jokes and stories that need to be retold only to you, so you can have a vague idea of what your community is doing.
I had a life in my van of clothes and supplies ready for anything that may happen when I was down in Chicago. These comments are not only my own but those of other commuters as well.
Now is this a taunt to the commuters as I reflect on how much my life has improved since I moved to school??? Never!!! It is merely a glance back of appreciation for the ups and downs of that life and the ups and downs of a new one. I loved that I still saw my family once a week and friends from high school were still keeping in touch with me. I was able to be with the people I cared about and give them a real chance at the jobs and calls they have in their life, as well as my own. I think commuters help us recognize the difficulty of the call and that it can be easy to move when we are single and in our twenties. Try attaching a spouse or kids and all their needs, or a real financial threat of ending a prominent and successful first career, these make life harder to uproot and go. Commuters are the real Abraham's and Ruth's, as they trust God with so much and many times ask their families to do it with them. Everyone chooses to give up on something to come to seminary, I believe that is really the case. But I believe commuters give up something and in their choice to commute usually they must give up the conveniences of a seminary life.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
For one, four years of my life look so neatly organized in their little folders. A sub folder with each class title. Completed papers tucked inside. Notes taken during many hours of my life spent in classrooms on campus and off, learning at the feet of others and soaking up their knowledge.
I have a week left. Two week, technically, before graduation around this time on the 13th. We'll be lining up in our graduation caps and gowns, processing about with our many colleagues in ministry.
A week left of a long four year journey. It has at the same time crawled and flown by. The hours and days seem slow and the months and years fast. Or perhaps it is the opposite? And in several more years, I will be reflecting back on a first call (God willing) and beginning to look towards the next adventure.
What an incredible journey. I have been pulled at like taffy, nurtured in the dusty sunlight, and filled up with good news and hope. I have wept and rejoiced. I have been positively snarky and pissed off. I have been politically correct. I have chosen my words wrongly. I have spoken prophetically. I have been a part of this place and space and time.
LSTC, thank you for forming this visionary leader. I hope I will make you proud.
(the photo is of me and one of my best friends at my birthday party 2nd year)
Friday, April 27, 2012
The less than good news is that it took me too long to put myself in the community. In keeping myself caught up with studies and my life outside of the seminary, I had a hard time experiencing the communal quality of this place at first. I am not slamming on the community here. The community is wonderful and always adapting to new contexts at this institution. I wasn’t ready to jump in, although I was certainly welcome to do so.
And so, my big regret for the year is that I took too long to get to know the great people I work with at LSTC. Now 2/3 of these wonderful people (with some wonderful exceptions!) are leaving and moving on to internship or out into a call of some sort. As with many others, I will miss them very much and look forward to any visits in the future. Before I say good-bye, however, I am fortunate enough to keep making connections and hanging out with many people before they leave. It’s kind of nice to know that, for some at least, I won’t have to say goodbye until the end of summer. The time together is certainly something for which I am thankful.
Until Next Friday!
Monday, April 23, 2012
|Dancing at a Hoedown|
Sunday, April 22, 2012
A couple weeks ago the junior class received their field ed assignments for next year. In excitement and preparation for their future ministry sites, two of the junior women came over to try on clerics and get a feel for what they liked. One of the juniors is tall, but curvy like my roommate. The other is short, but thin and angular like me. It was a fun evening of clergy dress-up as they raided our closets, trying on different sizes and styles, getting a sense of what worked and didn’t work. It felt like a strange passing of the torch, getting to share the wisdom we’d gained in several years of learning to make oddly sized clerics work for us.
I have learned a lot in the past four years of seminary. Much of that learning has come in the classroom, but probably an equal amount came from my colleagues. Tips and tricks passed on by word of mouth through generations of pastors; like keep peppermints in your pockets at a wedding (they help settle nervous stomachs) or that horse troughs make excellent full immersion baptismal fonts. After four years of taking in wisdom, it was fun to get to share some of my own and continue the chain of experience.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I'm a pragmatic person, and despite feeling the wind knocked out of me, papers need to be written, meetings need to be had, finals need to be taken, and packing for CPE needs to begin. I am in a state of tolerance with my health. I am tolerating the fact that I am angry and frustrated because despite having my health put limitations on me, I still have a full life with very full responsibilities.
There is a difference between tolerance and acceptance. We tolerate things that are frustrating. We tolerate things that are challenging. We tolerate things that are less than. This is vastly different from acceptance. We accept our limitations and find ways to work around them. We accept our differences so that we can grow together. We accept things because in acceptance there is an acknowledgement of worth.
Right now, I am not accepting how my health is affecting my future life goals. I am tolerating it. I can still move forward with tolerance, but it is not as full or rewarding as the progress made with acceptance.
When we think about other areas of our lives where people use "tolerance" and "acceptance" language, which do you choose? Do you tolerate the dominating personality in the classroom, or do you accept them? Do your race relations come out of a place of acceptance, or merely tolerance? Do you think we should tolerate LGBTQ unions, or accept them as equal to a heterosexual union?
Both lead to progress. Both lead to a brighter future for our tomorrow. But which word is the word that speaks more to the gospel of Christ, tolerance or acceptance? Are we forgiven for our sins because we are tolerated as being victims of a fallen humanity, or because we are accepted despite being a broken person?
Right now, I am in a state of tolerance, but with God's grace, I hope to move to a place of acceptance.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
I’ve spent the last few days learning how to do things one-handed, and there’s a lot I can do with careful planning. But as much as I can still do, there is a seemingly endless list of things that are what I’ve deemed “two-arm activities.” Things like opening jars, washing dishes, spreading cream cheese on a bagel, and even doing my own hair. As someone who’s always been pretty independent, this has made for a rough couple of days. I hate having to constantly ask others to help me. I want to be able to do for myself what I’ve always done.
But I can’t. I can’t open jars, use a knife, etc. And I am so grateful for the community who has surrounded me these past few days. Friends who sense when I’m struggling and reach over to perform simple tasks without making me ask. Who also understand when I need to do the job myself even if it might take longer than if they just did it for me. And most importantly, who are willing to be present with me in my pain and in my frustration as I navigate these temporary limits on my world. I cannot imagine trying to manage these last few days alone. It is good to be part of the Body of Christ, who can offer another arm when my one is not enough.
Friday, April 13, 2012
This week I found a significant affirmations in a place I didn’t expect- my First Year Assessment.
I remember first getting that wonderful mailing which said that I would have to arrange an hour long meeting with my advisor before the end of April. For this meeting I would have to draft of my Endorsement Essay and some paragraphs about how I would rank myself in the learning outcomes of LSTC. I would also have to print off a transcript. At the time, the paperwork seemed very intimidating and tedious as I thought about the other projects that I had to finish. By the time my week had come up for this First Year Assessment meeting, I was thinking about everything but First Year Assessments.
Now, I won’t hold anyone in suspense too much longer (insert chuckle here), I did get the paperwork together, eventually. At the meeting itself, I was almost immediately comfortable talking with my advisor about the next classes I was looking at, how my time at LSTC was going, the subject matter of my coursework, the musical, and other fun things. I was sad that it had to end, but I had my schedule and my advisor’s to honor. I left after a wonderful and reassuring time together that really brightened my day.
I have never worried that someone at LSTC would be out to get me, but it’s so nice to find another person who is on your side as a seminary student (pardon the language; I don’t want to suggest that someone in particular is NOT on “your side”). This was really a resurrection experience for me this week. I've been getting myself stuck in places of worry in my attempt to complete projects, readings, and other paperwork. The meeting that I had lifted me out of that mess, even if only for an hour. Turns out what I thought to be tedious and intimidating ended up being exactly what I needed.
Until Next Friday!
Sunday, April 8, 2012
I love Easter Vigil, but I did not go to one this year. I spent Holy Week at my home church visiting my friends and their brand new baby. I went to the other Triduum services, but Vigil was deemed too long for a four-week old, so we stayed home, played cards, and passed the baby around. Eventually she fell asleep on my chest with my finger in her mouth, sucking away contentedly.
I hope in my career in ministry to have the privilege to attend and preside at many an Easter Vigil. But as for last night, I can think of no better way to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ than a very small baby sighing softly on my chest. Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Thursday, April 5, 2012
For seminarians, the descent of Spring Semester as the academic year winds down to drifting lazily into the paleness of the evening means as a community we will begin to say our good byes. Our seniors sems are feeling the antsyness of approaching graduation as well as many of them journeying on to new horizons of first call interviews. For the first years, just getting through Lutheran Confessions as well as the piles of papers and projects that eagerly await their brilliant thoughts and ideas on paper and on computer . For my class, the middlers are awaiting April 19th when they will find out where exactly they will be going on internship.
In the last Lord of the Rings, Gandalf and the others set off on the sleek, transparent ships going beyond the Gray Veil, destination unknown but departing from this world into the beyond. The others watched it disappear, hearts heavy and missing those they had traveled with for so many, many years into dangerous and eye-opening adventures.
Although the adventures we have taken as a class have not been dangerous, the Holy Spirit definitely has traveled and opened our hearts and minds to the beauty of God's Love and the commitment that The Creator has to our vocational and discerning journey. For me, the addition of having a daughter in her junior year of high school means I will remain on the shores with my toes dug in the sand, wishing my classmates safe travels and blessings.
As the weather for a brief moment drew us all away from the sanctity of our hearths, spring cleaning too, also came early in our household and cleaning out our hall closet once more unearthed our tote full of pictures: pictures that equal up to more than 16 years of marriage as well as snapshots of both my husband and I's childhood.
For me, the excitement of another academic year, of bonding with my adoptive classmates who will soon be middlers, means also that I too will begin the journey onward. This will be the year I say goodbye and not farewell to a Synod who continues to mold and support, to a Seminary who has stood by and opened their arms and to my extended family who has gathered around me since my first steps into this world.
This pastoral journey is getting real folks.
Lape Bondye, God's Peace.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
And so, today the Metro Chicago Synod gathered on the north side of the city for a special mass. I'd estimate around 100 ordained pastors, deacons, associates in ministry, and seminarians were there, representing every corner of the ELCA's reach in Chicago and the suburbs. At this 'Chrism Mass,' the bishop blessed two enormous pitchers of oil (or chrism) to be used for anointing in baptismal and healing rites in all the congregations of the synod; the clergy and associates renewed their ministerial vows; and we all joined together in the great feast at the Lord's table.
My supervising pastor from my Ministry in Context (MIC) last year helped to coordinate this event, and so I joined fellow seminarians and interns in the good work of acolyting. And as the gathering hymn began and I carried the cross into the midst of the people, I began to think that think liturgy couldn't get much higher. Processionals, incense, beautiful music, genuflecting, a chasuble, dalmatics... the works.
I had been craving this kind of liturgy. I had gotten so used to it at my MIC site last year, and my internship site isn't quite as liturgical. In fact, I'd venture to guess that the majority of congregations in the synod aren't nearly as liturgical as the Chrism Mass today... which is why this sort of gathering is so important, especially on the Tuesday of Holy Week. Gathering with fellow clergy to renew vows, strengthen relationships, and experience God through these ancient liturgical practices really sets the stage for the marathon that we in the Church are about to run. It reminds us that we aren't alone in ministry. We have colleagues and friends close by, and we have the cloud of witnesses throughout time, to encourage us as we enter the most holy time in the Church calendar.
I hope that whatever synod I find myself in for my first call (and second, and third, and so on) will have the kind of support network that this synod does. This is, in a way, what Christian community looks like.
Monday, April 2, 2012
I go through that from time to time. Withdrawal. Of just needing some human touch. And as everyone is preparing to preach the 2nd week of Easter (the most popular Sunday for seminarians to preach), I think about Thomas just wanting to touch. And my heart calls out for him.
In this society of individualism, of isolation, I fear we have forgotten that we are the body of Christ for one another. Reaching out to touch. Reaching out to hold.
And yet, even as I type this, I think of all the times touch has been used wrongly. Used to hurt and harm. And I weep.
So in the midst of this broken world, I seek Christ. Look for an empty tomb that means Christ lives. I wait to touch the wounds in his side and in his hands.