Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Live-Blogging from Eden Seminary

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.


Melissa said...

Say hello to that guy and gal from Chicago for me! :)

Great post! Very true once you leave a place that has become a part of you!

Anonymous said...

You're right, POC, it's not home. (Especially when I share a bathroom with you instead of my wife...) For me, Eden never was a home because my wife was back in Ohio during seminary days and THAT was home. But there's a spiritual home there, a Webster Groves spiritual center, and that will always be.

That really hit home for me this morning when, after the Eucharist, we were offered blessings. We. Us. The "blessers" were now the "blessees". And today, I needed exactly that, and I found myself in tears when I went to receive the blessing I was offered. Nobody has offered me a blessing that directly since - maybe - ordination, and that was basically a ritual blessing. This was SO personal and intense, especially being tied in with a moment of God's amazing grace at Christ's table. Today helped me realize, in part, what I need in order to be fed ... as well as what others need from me in order to be fed.

Powerful morning in chapel. Powerful time with collegial friends. But back to HOME on Thursday after this delightful annual pilgrimage.

Sorry this is so long. You can have your blog back now. :-)


Anonymous said...

It was great seeing you and the other Eden grads again! Hope your drive home was safe and uneventful.


Jeff Nelson said...

BDB, agreed on the blessing yesterday. I was hesitant to go up because it was going to be such a vulnerable moment and as a pastor I'm hardly ever on that side of it.

TGFC, same here. The drive was very uneventful, particularly that stretch of I-70 in Illinois where I just sat twiddling my thumbs for an hour.

And this morning my car started acting funny. I think it's a belt. I'm just glad that it held out until today for that to happen.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes.

This trip was good for my soul. I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to head back to my wonderfully challenging congregation. At the point in my drive where I usually get nervous or sometimes even tear up, I smiled. Big. This calling and this congregation are where I'm supposed to be.

I agree with you and bdb, the blessings were so important. All of the worship was so important, and so good. As I sit here, I still feel the hands of our former professor, conveying God's grace and renewal, which was exactly what I needed. Her words to me were just what I needed to hear, and are giving me strength.

Eden will always be a special place. It will always feel like home in some ways to me, but as we were making decisions about what to do with the rest of Wednesday afternoon, even though there was a long list of things we thought we wanted to do in St. Louis, I turned to That Guy and said, "I want to go home." And it was true.

Love ya,
That Girl From Chicago

Anonymous said...

heh....Just realized "Guy" and "Girl" are completely indistinguishable if all I type are initials.

My bad.

That bloke.