I write this from my seminary alma mater with a few of this blog's regular commenters in attendance. They already know what's going on, but maybe the rest of my readership is interested.
Eden Seminary hosts an alumni event every spring after graduation. They may alter that slightly next year, but for now this is how they're doing it. Alumni from the five most recent graduating classes (excluding the ones from a few days prior) are invited back for a time of reflection, renewal, and reunion. I didn't intend for all those to start with the same letter, but there you go.
Anyway, our time this year has focused around our sense of call and evaluating it in terms of what our current ministry contexts demand of us. The metaphor that our main presenter has used is geology: what are our diamonds, our stones, and our sand? Diamonds are our joys, triumphs, and gifts. Stones are our disappointments, failures, and growing edges. Sand is what causes us to drag our feet...what might we be avoiding or causes us to move slower than we ought?
I just got out of a session on ministry "hacks." Hacks is understood as shortcuts; resources or actions that may help us work more efficiently in our settings. Some mentioned an organization to join, others mentioned ways to structure the church's governance, still others remarked about how important it is to be a part of something where you aren't seen as The Pastor.
The whole thing has been an excellent way to reflect and to decompress, if only for a day or two. It's always a joy to come back here, and I've experienced a few moments of complete peace. The first was when the St. Louis skyline appeared over the hill for the first time on the drive in. It felt so comfortable and familiar. The second was looking up at the spiers of the Press Building and recalling the moment in which I did that after passing my second-level oral; feeling affirmed in my call and like I'd just conquered the world.
At the same time, I remarked to someone earlier today that the more time passes, the more I see this place as nice to visit, but then I go home. That's important, I think. I'm no longer tied to this place as I once was; I no longer feel the need to ask in each new ministerial challenge, "What Would Eden Do?" I think every seminary graduate--no matter what school--asks that the first few months or even years out. But as pastors begin to find their own voices and realize that they actually didn't learn all they needed to know during those 3-4 years or longer and begin to learn and love their people and their new communities, this is what happens.
Eden will always be an oasis of sorts for me, but it's no longer my home. And that's okay.