Lent. Growing up, I never paid it much attention. (Though I DO remember one of my eighth-grade classmates gave up haircuts for Lent. We laughed. But, by the end of Lent his hair was SO long, most girls would’ve been envious!) Over the last few year, Lent has been difficult while at the same time beautiful. It makes me think of all the daffodils and tulips attempting to burst forth from the dark soil, sometimes covered in dank leaves, in order to show forth their beautiful blooms. What a great metaphor for what can happen in our lives if we invite God in to help with the “mud” in order to bring forth something beautiful.
It’s hard to believe that, as I write this, my first year at seminary is coming to a close. It seems like only yesterday the U-Haul was parked outside of church while we went to one last morning prayer in the Christ the King Chapel before hitting the road. However, it also seems like I’ve been here for a long time and am saddened to realize that some of my classmates will soon be leaving this place thanks to graduation. It seems that “change” is constant, but it’s just one of the forms “formation” takes.
Happy Easter!!! The dictionary recognizes Resurrection (with an initial capital letter) as Jesus Christ’s return to life after death and burial. In some cases, though, the first definition listed is of resurrection = the act of rising from the dead. Not like I was truly dead but, when I arrived home, I was truly drained. Spring Break coinciding with Holy Week brought death and new life.
Wow, seems like just yesterday I was in Sheboygan worshipping with you all! It was such a blessing to be at Grace and to be able to visit with so many of you! I wish I could’ve visited with more of you, but the time home and the holidays made that difficult. Time keeps marching forward and, as I write this, second semester and Lent are right around the corner!
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about time. I’ve thought about how I fill it, how I use it, how I waste it, how I wish I had more of it, and how quickly it passes or drags on. Time is an amazing thing! “But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” (2 Peter 3:8) This verse always comes to mind when I consider time. Lately, because of this verse, I’ve come to a different understanding about time: ALL of time belongs to God. Taking that approach has made me look at my own time in a new way. Every moment of my day belongs to God.
Ok, so maybe it’s not the best use of English grammar, but a very common saying heard around campus is, “Done is good.” I’ve just completed my first semester at seminary. It hardly seems possible. Yet, despite feeling like I just got to school, it has been an intense semester and I am so glad it’s completed. For each class, there is always more reading that could be done. For each paper, there is always more research that could be done. For each exam, there is always more preparation that could be done. At times, it is best to recognize that “Done is good” and move on to the next assignment. Yet, what about what happens in between?
It’s beginning to look a lot like…Advent! Ok, I know, that’s not how the song goes. Then again, I’m here in Alexandria and our temps will be in the 50’s for the next couple of weeks. Some of the atmospheric clues of the season are absent for me. Plus, finals are right around the corner. Between the weather and the school work, Advent’s season of preparation will take on a very different feel this year! Like the Magi, this Advent, I find myself looking for “signs”.
November is a month many of us begin to look back over the course of the year and think to the year ahead. It is at this time that I am most aware of what has happened and is happening while what will happen remains a mystery. As I sit down to write this, I have just finished my first major exam (New Testament) of my time at seminary…with many more exams in my future! In this moment, I give thanks.
Greetings! It is hard to believe how quickly another month has flown by!! Thankfully, this past week was the first that it felt as a rhythm had started. I thought I’d share with you a bit of what daily life is like here at VTS. I won’t bore you with all of the details of my day, but share a bit about the framework of our day.
8:15 AM Morning Prayer. This is a slice of home for me. We gather together in the same way that we do at Grace. The chapel is larger and there are more people present, but the flow of the service is like a warm blanket by its familiarity to prayers in Christ the King Chapel. Beforehand, on Tuesday mornings, I text Paul Aparicio and on Fridays, Deacon Michele just to let them know that while I’m not there to pray with them, I am here praying with them. (I can’t say enough about Morning Prayer service at Grace! It provides nourishment in so many ways. Check it out. Tell ‘em “Bobbi sent you.”)
This past month has been a blur of activity! Kaleigh and I returned from General Convention, I said my good-byes to my job and co-workers of the past fifteen years, and got started at purging and packing my house up for our move to Alexandria, VA. There have been moments when I could hardly put my thoughts together to get the words out or speak in complete sentences. In fact, consider it a miracle if this writing makes sense! But then, we live in a world of miracles: small and large!
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been very aware of the miracles in my life that have brought me to this point in the journey.
On Sunday, July 26th, Father John Cell celebrated with us. His sermon could NOT have been more fitting for my “sending”. Both the Old Testament and New Testament readings dealt with those who receive instructions where the “math” just doesn’t add up. Father Cell told us in his sermon that it is very easy to believe in miracles after the fact. However, we are also asked to believe in miracles on the front end as well. Trusting all will be well can be a challenge, even for those of us for whom faith and trust seems a foregone conclusion. For me, the words he shared with us from Mark 9:24 really resounded, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
“Love” shows up in the Bible roughly 300 times. For me, this past month has been a time of experiencing God’s overwhelming love through the Body of Christ. It has revealed itself in a variety of ways in my life and am also thankful for the lessons He has provided; just when I thought I understood God’s love fully, something new was discovered.
First, I want to express my deepest expression of thanksgiving to those who have already responded to partner with me in ministry. 48 have responded to partner in prayer, financial support, and/or other means in response to the roughly 250 letters that were initially mailed to parish members, friends, and family members. Going to the mailbox has been a joyful experience each day. The support and personal notes that were included brought both smiles and tears, sometimes at the same time.
“I’ve got the peace surpassing understanding down in my heart; down in my heart; down in my heart. I’ve got the peace surpassing understanding down in my heart; down in my heart to stay.”This is one of my favorite verses to one of my favorite songs from vacation bible school of my youth. It’s only over the course of the past month that I’ve understood its words clearly!
For the past three months, my focus has been to find the answer to one question: Which seminary will my formation take place at? Answer: Virginia Theological Seminary. Done. Right? Nope.
One answer has cleared the way for what seems like a thousand other questions to take its place.
To my Grace Family,
This past Sunday morning I shared an update of my discernment process at the 10:15 service. Over the past six weeks:
In the end, it has been determined that my formation should take place at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. I interviewed there April 1st, received an acceptance letter last week, and will start there this August.
The world calls it “irony”, we call it “God’s timing”. Whatever you call it, it’s not lost on me that God’s timing would have me visiting seminaries and spending time further discerning my call to the priesthood during Lent. Lent, the time of year where we spend time praying and reflecting on the death that brought new life.
Some may look at my travels and think “how exciting” to be visiting such varied places: metropolitan DC, Austin, TX, the mountain ranges of TN, and even in our own backyard filled with history. However, while the traveling has been revelatory, it has also required time to reflect on all that I’ll leave behind when I go…wherever that may be. In discernment, they call it “the little dying”. It requires the discerner to take time to examine the parts of life and relationships that will be impacted and forever changed.