Ecumenical

I have a Catholic nun for my spiritual formation group leader.

My professors by their denominations are Eastern Orthodox, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Baptist.

I do believe this is the dream. Someone asked me recently what my favorite course is…I couldn’t give an answer…They’re all so good.

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Lesson on beginnings

I’ve returned to school. It seems to have grown with me. Perhaps it has something to do with the nature of the education that I’m engaging in, but all the same I find myself doing older things than the last time I went to school. In theory it might have something to do with the fact that the last time I started post-secondary education I was 18, but I think there’s also something to the task at hand.

One of my professors said something yesterday that stuck with me. He said, “There are some people who say there are no stupid questions…we know this is patently untrue. However, the stupid question is not asked from ignorance on grounds of seeking understanding. The stupid question is that which is asked to make oneself seem intelligent.” We then made an informal agreement as a class to avoid such questions.

Shortly thereafter I read a letter from Ignatius of Antioch that he wrote to Christians in Ephesus. The man was on his way to his eventual martyrdom in Rome. Whilst on the way to his death, the good bishop takes the time to write the words “I am only beginning to be a disciple…” One would think that on the way to martyrdom someone would write something to the opposite effect.

When I took pause to combine these two small moments into one I think I began to find a solid lesson/mantra for this new space, and probably for each day (which comes as a new space):

I am only beginning.

 

Shout out to I-90 in Minnesota

Well, I made it. Not dead, but alive, in another state.

I traveled nearly 4000 miles by car with my dad. I passed through the following states: Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and then wound up here in the city of Durham, NC.

I am already somewhat at a loss… to begin with regarding wildlife. I saw a huge spider outside my new house. It looks poisonous…but I have no idea what it could be. I wanted to squish it, but I also wanted immediately to purchase a book on wildlife hereabouts so I don’t meander into tall grass and get eaten by the native species of Velociraptors.

Traveling by car across the nation is a rough thing to do in 5 days. Believe it or not, the fun of driving slowly leaks away by the third straight day in a row of 8+ hours on the road. As does the child-like glee that comes with eating out.

Still, despite the challenges of the road I count the journey well worth my time. I enjoyed the drive with my dad. I don’t know the next time I’ll get to spend 5 days in a car with my dad when we’re both adults.

In some ways this is really only a journey to another journey. A transition that begins a transition. I’m hitting a stage of life where I will be here in North Carolina most of the time for the next three years. It’s a little terrifying. It’s also invigorating.

People have asked “How are you feeling about this?” My response is usually something along the lines of “I’m feeling everything about this.” I could name just about every emotion possible and apply them to my life at the moment.

In general though, this is the dream and by the grace of God, I’m living it.

There are some things I would love to change (i.e. “Why can’t Duke be in Seattle?” or “Can’t____come to North Carolina too?), but all things considered this is good. Good doesn’t mean perfect.

I saw this piece of graffiti on I-90 in Minnesota. Someone had taken blue spray paint and scrawled “Trust Jesus” in messy letters on a freeway overpass.  I know that it’s cliche to write something like that in a public space, and I dunno that I would encourage someone to do it…but when my dad and I drove by it I was struck by the prophetic nature of those simple words.

To most people those words may mean much less than they mean to me.

When I read those words I was reminded that many of the most important things are simply stated and lived in complexity.

I was also reminded that I need to be reminded. That there is something (to paraphrase a line from a lovely book I read) holy in remembering.

It’s something that happens when allow ourselves to dwell richly in the One who calls us. We find our dwelling place in Him who made His dwelling place among us.

We remember…and we walk on new paths of uncertainty in which we are led one step at a time.

Step one of my first night in Durham: Get dinner.