Hello from divinity school.
As a way to keep me sane and slay the threat of vanity, I have decided to keep a series as often as I can: "Notes from Seminary." Over the next three years I will share nuggets from the wild community I have stepped into at Wake Forest School of Divinity. My prayer is that in sharing, what I learn in seminary might bear fruit in more lives than mine.
Seminary is awesome, but it means nothing if kept within the tower.
So, here we go...
Sometime in the early weeks of preaching class last spring--I want to say it was merely the second week of class--Dr. Miles gave us 24-hours to write a sermon that we would, absolutely, preach to our colleagues.
And said sermon would, absolutely, only be a minute long.
I drew Genesis 2 from the hat.
A few months ago a professor asked my colleagues and me to practice Lectio Divina with nature. Lectio Divina, or divine reading, is a spiritual way of reading scripture in order to listen for the whispers of God. It involves reading a brief passage several times while noticing with each pass which part seems to shimmer at the reader, draw the reader in, or ask something of the reader.
My professor wanted us to do this with nature. To go outside with God and discern that which God was asking us to see or to sit with.
Goosebumps still stand on my arms to remember the way matter and Mystery communed and communicated together that drizzly afternoon.
My experience went like this...
Part 3: Womb of the Wild | Eventually and carefully I reached a cradle right in the heart of the tree. What I am calling a “cradle” was the central place of the tree where the strongest limbs gave way from the trunk. The space therein was precisely the size of me, a perfect seat, a forest womb. I sat for a while there with my legs folded and my arms clutching the nearest branch for stability. But then there came a great wind. Oh, how the leaves gleamed in their greens and yellows as the sun shone through their dancing! I stood in the cradle to witness the flickering sight, the wind playing at my hair. An even greater wind rushed the tree and took me a bit off balance, and I was afraid again—not of snakes, but of…damn it, I was just afraid. Pure fear. That is exactly what it was. In a moment, I felt afraid of everything. My life. My calling. My inability to meditate. My relationship with snakes.
Snakes and Ladders | “There is nothing more pathetic than caution when headlong might save a life, even, possibly, your own.”– Mary Oliver
Hey there, friendly reader.
Thank you for taking the time to sift through my musings today. I am going to share a reflection on a class I took in Asheville, North Carolina at the beginning of this summer, a class called Bread in the Wilderness, a summer seminar on food, faith, and ecological well-being.
Over and over again these past few weeks in divinity school I have gotten a rush. It has happened in each of my classes, first in New Testament and then most recently in Christian Theology.
I feel excited. Pulled. Rooted. On fire. Extremely curious.
Most imminently, I feel like I am learning something that was meant to be mine all along.
I feel like a muggle’s kid at Hogwarts and it is amazing
A poem. |
My eyes are fire and water
Passion for justice
Tears of repentance
Resolve to do both
There is no justice, no equity, no love without repentance—
The amending, the turning, the changing of my mind
Okay. I am going to talk about a theological model for creation and providence. I will say that as a model it is just that—a picture, a grasping, an imaginative attempt at expression and understanding about God.
It is also a model, one model of many, and should be considered in concert with other pictures and ideas.
And it might be a little “out there” for some. It might be scary for others.
But this model might just speak of something hoped for and something very, very true.
I don’t know about you, but faithfulness is harder when success seems impossible. What is the point in working hard for social justice if human groups are not capable of wholeness in the first place (as Niebuhr seems to think)?
What is the point of faithfulness if my community does not change for the better, when nothing seems to make any real difference?
(Header photo courtesy of Amanda Kerr.)