On the other side of the quarter…

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written an actual post. This quarter was so jam-packed–and very difficult, but in a good, almost-healthy kind of way.

I say almost healthy for a few reasons. I felt like I was working hard on things that mattered a lot, things that were important and have a lot of meaning. I learned all kinds of interesting things about practiced religiosity–religious leadership–things that I found very interesting and meaningful. I did a lot of good work this quarter, and struggled through a lot as well. That was the healthy part. But, the other, unhealthy part was just the sheer amount of things that I did. I kept repeating to everyone around me “Human beings aren’t meant to live like this.” And it’s true. We shouldn’t take on so much just because. The things we do should have time, weight, gravity–all that we do should also have time for reflection and relationship in it.

This quarter was pretty intense. I sometimes say with the outburst-type of cynicism and frustration: “Four classes and two jobs!” And then, for effect, add “And hit by a bus!” if that doesn’t seem quite intense enough.

The beginning quarter of my internship was, I think, successful and really meaningful. I taught  five different children’s formation lessons, learned how to swing-about incense, preached an “Amen!” worthy sermon, spent Tuesday afternoons in a kindergarten classroom, and rallied up the church to give food to the local public school’s makeshift food pantry. My favorite part has definitely been working with the school. The change to see how a local church can effectively assist a neighborhood school is really important to me. I get really excited about our conversations at the committee meetings about how to get better arts programs, this or that organization better involved, or different projects that community members can bring to the classroom. I love working with the kiddies, and I love thinking about the ‘pastoral care’ element of having a seminary intern in a classroom. It’s a weird, ambiguous, and potentially even problematic question, but in the classroom I can see so many places where real pastoral care is needed: be it an exhausted teacher, a troubled student, or just having an extra adult to answer questions around. Having the school as a part of my internship is really cool because it supplements my education about what a congregation is in the traditional sense (who comes to church, acts in church, does this and that) and then the very nontraditional sense: just those in the community who are in communication with the church and its members.

The bus situation has been sorted out and I am good and healthy now. The doctor proclaimed me finished with orthopedic visits. I haven’t really recovered fully: that toe will likely always remain broken. But new bone is forming and it bends somewhat properly now. It’s a silly toe anyhow. Not too necessary.

I wrote four papers for finals this quarter, and all of them, I think, were pretty interesting and fun to write.

For my class on Rumi, I wrote an exegesis of motherhood images that he uses to describe the Divine. There is this great story in the Masnavi in which he uses a crazed mother elephant as a metaphor for the wrath of God. I’d never seen the wrath of God described as female before, so I wanted to really dig into it. I spent some time also looking at the less intense images, the perhaps more traditional ones, of God as a nursing mother and of pregnancy motifs to describe the spiritual life. It was pretty fun, digging through the work.

For Intro to Ethical Theories, I had a particular prompt–“Compare two of the three, Aristotle, Kant, and Aquinas.” I chose Aristotle and Kant, just because I had paid better attention during those sections of class, really. I wrote about their theories, and then stacked them up according to how they assess the ethical nature of the cycle of poverty in modern America. I think I probably could have done better, and someday I’d like to, but this was the last paper I wrote and I was pretty burnt out.

In my Worship and Preaching course, we had an absolutely astronomical task that I found really difficult to tackle in ten pages: exegete a worship service in your tradition, tell us the purpose of worship, and throw in a theology of preaching. Gasp. I did my best, but Episcopalians are into their bells and whistles and movements, and so it was very difficult to keep the pages down. I did, however, focus on three things that I thought were pretty important questions that Episcopalians wrestle with: the purpose of high church, the integration of children, and the purpose of communion. I thought it was kind of fun to dig into those ideas, but again, I wished that I could have had more resources and time.

Lastly, I wrote a paper for my Practicum course, the course that accompanies our internships, on the relationship between the church I work for and the school I also work for. It was fun to tease out these questions about pastoral care, effective social ministry, and effective community building in churches. It helped me get to some of the conclusions above about the role that the church may have–and the role that the church certainly doesn’t have–in a relationship with a neighborhood school.

Lastly, I BOUGHT AN iMAC!! That was my gift to myself for making it through the quarter. I plan to do so much art with it. I hope to get back into digital painting. Now that I’m visiting my dad in Staunton, I’m on the laptop. But soon, oh…soon, I will be purchasing a student copy of Corel Painter and going to town with my trusty dusty Intuous 2.

Speaking of visiting my dad in Staunton, here I am sitting in this lovely old house on the hill, and I can hear the Cardinal Train arriving at the station down the street! I arrived on that same train a couple days ago, and here it is again. Did I mention that I love trains?

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