[Reflection] It Begins: Seminary, Year One

Author’s Note:

The following post was written in the very early hours of Thursday, 25 August. I’ve chosen not to alter the text (save for minor spelling and grammatical corrections) out of a sense of historical loyalty.

I would further like to note that I am now as far out of Ingathering as Ingathering was long. I’ve sat with the experience in its totality, and I find that I am excited about this journey. Excited – just that. Not anxious, amused, or any other of my prior standbys, I am genuinely excited because I am finally beginning to learn how to learn to do what I was made to do.

Begin original text:

Three days ago, my journey through seminary officially began. Later this morning, I will head home with my first Fall Ingathering in the rear-view mirror. The anxiety I wrestled with over the prior few weeks has now been utterly and thoroughly eradicated.

I had been counselled that seminary is going to be A Journey – capital letters intended. What I didn’t expect, and why I am still awake at 1:30 in the morning trying to find appropriate words and record this moment, was the formation of community. I did not expect such joy that my very view of the world was altered, and I did not expect to find such kindred souls as I have found.

I did not expect the friendship I found this week.

I did not expect to find myself in a place where I am both constantly amazed that I am there and constantly reminded that I belong here.

And I certainly did not expect myself face to face with the awesome power of grace.

This community has its roots in a common call of ministerial service, but it has its form in the conversations on the 6th floor as we watched fireworks. It draws its beautiful colours from the shared stories of tattoos over whiskey. It has its bonds in three simple words: “I love you.”

This is a journey I never expected to actually be on. It has been the journey I wanted to be on, the journey I dreamed of being on, the journey I longed to be on ever since I understood what those words in the darkness of 1992 meant: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

I ran and hid from this calling for twenty-five years. That was then, and now Fall Ingathering has committed me to trusting that I am exactly where I should be, doing exactly what I should be doing, exactly where and when I should be doing it. I can do nothing else.

To this most beautiful journey I raise a glass, and pray that the Divine of our understanding will hold us and keep us, and make Her face shine upon us.

Be blessed, ya’ll, be blessed.

Addendum:

There are people in my life who are likely looking upon this journey with judgemental eyes. I’d encourage them to think long and hard before throwing that stone through my glass house. To the ones who won’t see this post, I only hope one day that you open your eyes enough to see that your daughter is accomplishing more with her life than your son ever did.

And, honestly, none of ya’ll are going to stop this train, soooo….. sod off.

Addendum to the Addendum:

After a conversation elsewhere, it was suggested that I include the four days “Seminary Journals” originally posted on Facebook. Without further ado:

Seminary Journal, Day Four: I have completed the most sacred of seminarian rituals: The Packing of the Bags.

I am leaving the physicality of this blessed and beloved community- community which did not exist for me a few short days ago. I had friends on the journey, sure- but I did not yet have Community.

I am a part of that community in a million ways, small and large. I am not the same anxious person who boarded a Red line train Monday morning, nor am I the same person I will be as I travel through my formation.

I am choosing to look beyond that, for all I have is this now. There is no other now like it, and it is unique. It is to be cherished and held close.

To the journey, my friends- we walk it together. Until we meet again, be blessed.

hobbes borden and friend - on the way home

 

Seminary Journal, Day Three: I am among blessed community, and I am present. This is good, and that is all. Be blessed, ya’ll.

Seminary Journal, Day Two: PM Edition: I am tired, but not as exhausted as yesterday. My Red line train back to the Potter’s apartment is reasonably clean, and this is good.

Today we have born witness to the challenges of creating beloved community, the realizations that there is _no_ such thing as white innocence, and that our religious history as Unitarian Universalists is one of privilege. The privileged save the privileged, who save the privileged, etc.

While there were many tears today, this is good.

The challenge before us as we enter our formation as religious leaders is a challenge of not just radical inclusion, but one of prophetic and revelatory answers to the personal calls that brought us to the act of formation. We have gone down to the river to learn how to pray, as it were.

We witness that we all must admit and relinquish the lie of white innocence if we are to enlarge the circle of empathy, for it is the outcasts whose voice is not yet present at our shared table of community who exist in our blind spots. There is, quoting Rev. Dr. Sinkford, no innocence left for any of us.

This is also good. This is also, to quote Dr. Hogue, one of my growth edges. One I am sitting with after my own fashion, and one I won’t be relinquishing anytime soon.

Be blessed, ya’ll. Onward.

Seminary Journal, Day Two: AM Edition: This Red line train is clean and doesn’t smell like urine and/or feces. Today is going to be a good day.

Seminary Journal, Day One: PM Edition: The time is 8:30pm, and I am on non-urined Red line train back to my bed for the week. I am beyond exhausted.

In so many different ways, this journey has challenged my resolve just to get here to Fall Ingathering. But I am here, I am here now, and… I am exactly where I should be when I should be there. Any lingering doubt of that has been erased, and if that doubt returns, it’s the fear weasels gettin’ their mating dance on. Nothing more.

More importantly, to me, is finally beginning to understand that this community desires _me_ to be here, to be a part of _their_ community. I am no longer looking in with sighing eyes of longing. I have been welcomed as both friend and colleague.

That’s not to say this work will not transform me further, because it will. I have no illusions of that, and I _welcome_ it. I am finally beginning the work to learn how to learn to do the work I am made to do. That’s some profound personal liberation there, folks. Trust me.

Have some pictures, while I run off to listen to The Pogues. Be blessed, all of ya’ll.

Seminary Journal, Day One: AM Edition: Thus it begins… not with a bang, but with a Red line train that smells of urine and fecal matter with a twenty-something begging for dollar bills. Stay classy, Chicago.