Friday, October 25, 2013

Blur is a Blessing: The Days are a Whirlwind, Yet the Moments Spectacular

          Seminary life is absolutely crazy.  There is ALWAYS something to do whether it be more reading or the never ending amounts of writing, yet I find myself loving it.  Usually Mondays are a bit quieter because I only have one class, but that is also dependent upon how much work I've completed over the weekend.  Usually by Monday most everything is done, but occasionally there's that last thirty pages to read, it's just how it goes. 
          The last few days in particular have been a blur of craziness.  Wednesday I arrived to campus around 9am and went to the library for a few hours to work on a paper.  At 10:30 Seminary Singers gathered to do a brief warm-up and rehearsal, and worship started at 11:15.  At noon each Wednesday we have community lunch, and this week was the first that we were in our newly renovated green space in the basement of STH!  We've waited for this day, and we were excited to join together as we blessed our new space.  Class from 1:00 to 4:45 followed by a brief time to head to the library for a bit.  6:00 brought Hebrew Bible where we had F-18s from game one of the World Series fly overhead and shake our classroom right as someone mentioned something about God being angry on the scripture of topic.  We looked at the story of Rahab and the spies from a Sex and Gender lens, and I realized that I'd read the wrong materials for class (oops!!)  When class ended at 9:00, I went home, walking over the St. Mary's bridge I admired the lights from Fenway as I chatted with Dad on the phone.
          Thursday started with class at 9:30.  Class wrapped at 11:00, and I promptly went to the library to try and read for my Hebrew Bible class so that I might actively participate in discussion.  While at the library I wrote up an assignment about coded situations for another class and finished revising a paper due next week.  Discussion group started at 4:00, and my participation was slightly successful.  I wish I'd gotten through more of the reading, but the bonus is that I am well prepared for next week!  At 5:00 I went... yep, you guessed it, back to the library to work on my Exegesis paper for Hebrew Bible.  I have two resources that are absolutely phenomenal: an Accordance app on my iPad, and The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary on CD-Rom.  LIFE SAVERS!  I don't know Hebrew, and these two tools are useful in getting a bit closer to the original intention of the scripture I'm working with.  At 6:00 I went for Indian food for ThursGay.  Yes, you read that right, ThursGay; a group of LGBTQ people and allies from STH gather for supper.  I had to walk past Fenway to get to the restaurant, and I was approached three times by people asking if I was selling any tickets to Game 2.  Negative my friend,I couldn't afford a ticket to begin with.  At 7:00 I headed back up to the Tsai Performing Arts Center to listen to Bishop Gene Robinson as part of the Lowell Lecture Series through the School of Theology.  After the lecture, I went to the BU Pub to gather with some classmates, and then tried to beat the baseball rush home.
          Today I went to the library and did some school work, the bank and ordered checks, the post office and sent a package to Mamasan and Papasan (you should receive it on Thursday), the barbershop and got a haircut, the grocery store and bought more ice cream, and finally home to where I did school work, ate a salad for supper, and took a nap.
          Anyway, life is busy.  Sometimes I lose track of what I've done on one day because I do so many things.  But it is these moments in these days that I find absolutely spectacular.  To be a part of something when blessing the renovated space I will use for the foreseeable future was amazing.  I shared a moment with Odette, an Instructor in the Practice of Ministry and Director of Field Education at Pacific School of Religion, and she offered some phenomenal ministry advice.  Thursday allowed me to interact with new people in a wonderful way. 
          Bishop Gene Robinson is the first openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church (now retired), and he just returned from a meeting with the ArchBishop of Canterbury. He encouraged us to go out and be prophets to the world. He shared how God's church is big enough for everyone. He shared that we are all going to heaven, it's a done deal; so we only need to go into situations and do the best that we can. If we make matters better in a situation, we're going to heaven. If we happen to make matters worse in a situation, we're going to heaven.  He encouraged us to go into the church and blow things up (metaphorically of course).  Check out his lecture,  To be able to speak with such a gracious man for just a few minutes was an absolute wonder.  He has a way of making you feel he is your dearest friend with just a hand shake and a hug.  Hearing names like Howard Thurman and Martin Luther King Jr. on a regular basis, coupled with meeting Rev. Gene Robinson has me feeling like I'm standing in the company of giants. 
           On the way home I met a father who took his son to Game 2. They left early when the young lad was falling asleep in his seat. The father was concerned when our train stopped and made us get off six stops short of our destination, he worried his son wouldn't have a seat on the next train that picked us up.  I helped them find the way to our waiting point for the next train, and simply explained to the man that sometimes the train you're on has its final destination change en route.  It's frustrating, but doesn't seem to occur too often. 
          Then there was the man I spoke to while waiting for the next train to come along and take us the rest of the way. He is originally from Boston, but had spent the last several years in Texas. He served as a lay leader in a UU church there, while also living in a vow of poverty. Here he works at an adult learning center during the day, at night he lays electrical line with a crew of workers. Eventually he hopes to go back to Texas, but for right now is calling Boston home. We started to talk when he noticed the UCC sticker on my water bottle and asked if I was a seminary student, and the conversation moved freely from there.  A twenty minute wait for the next train caused him to be late for work, but he expressed appreciation in having had some time to speak with me.
          For the walk from the T stop to home I chatted with a young woman who moved here from South Korea nine months ago. She's studying English at the Kaplan school while the rest of her family is back in South Korea. Our conversation covered topics such as snowfall and winter in Boston (it's the first for both of us!), the way the weather is changing, baseball (logically of course), and Halloween.  She exclaimed her excitement about Halloween, particularly that she is attending a party in New York City next week.
          Today I noted that it was time to bust out my winter hats.  With having shorter hair, I definitely feel the wind more, so my winter hats will be good for keeping my noggin warm.  I stopped at one time today to enjoy the sunshine on my face as I crossed the St. Mary's bridge to school.  For a moment, the world stood still.  The traffic around me and below on 95 ceased.  The noise stopped.  I simply was.  When I opened my eyes again, I looked up to see Marsh Plaza.  It's so perfectly framed between the buildings of Commonwealth Avenue and the trees, I can't help but smile when I see it.  It reminded me that this time in my life will be over before I know it.  I want to savor it.  I want to make it a part of my journey that I will look back upon with joy and fondness.  I want it to last for as long as I need it to.  Joni Mitchell sings in the Circle Game, "We're captive on the carousel of time" as well as, "Take your time. It won't be long now.
'Til your drag your feet to slow the circles down."  Such true statements.  I wish I could drag my feet and make these experiences take just a bit longer in my life.  I cannot fathom that I'm already eight weeks into the fifteen weeks of the semester.  It doesn't seem possible.
          I sometimes feel guilty that I haven't done more of the exploring of the city that I had hoped to do.  But I'm also realizing that in doing what I did this week and engaging in conversation with new people is 'living life' for me.  The museums are great, but they'll be there when I'm on winter break and over the summer.  These moments when I encounter new people are more in line with what I'm here to do.  When I pour over my books in the library and unearth the meaning of a word or consider something in new light, that brings such a sense of accomplishment (and joy) to my life.  When I enter my home and hear laughter from the kitchen and stop to say hello, that's a blessing.  When I go to get my hair cut and the woman remembers what she did last time (this is only my second hair cut in Boston), I begin to feel more at home. 
Life is a blur.  But I'm recognizing that it's about finding the little moments in life where time stands still and you feel a difference.  Blur can be a blessing. 

This weekend Oma and Momma B come to visit.  It will a spectacular weekend where I'll actually make it to an art gallery/museum and enjoy some seafood.  I'm very excited for them to be here!  REALLY! 

BONUS track: Things I saw on the T this week...
1) A woman standing and knitting on a VERY crowded T.  It may be a slight safety hazard.
2) The man passed out with three empty beer cans under his seat.
3) The man performing yoga stretches in his seat.  It was quite impressive. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What's Love Got to do With it? Everything!

Thursday was absolutely gorgeous. After a 90 minute lecture and 40 minutes on the phone with the DMV, I took the opportunity to have lunch with a friend at UBurger. For anyone in the Boston area or ever nearby, try UBurger. 

The sun was shining on our return walk, and it made the stroll quite nice. As we walked near Marsh chapel, my friend noticed the "Common Ground Communion" happening in the plaza. She veered off to take communion, and I walked along, finally stopping near the school of theology to wait and watch. 

I was struck deeply by the love surrounding that communion table. People journeying together on this walk of life, a sign which read, "All Are Welcome!"  It stood in significantly sharp contrast to the demonstrators calling for an impeachment of President Obama, they having gone so far as to draw a mustache reminiscent of Adolf Hitler's on Obama's presidential portrait.  

On one side, love and unity. On the other, hatred and division. On one side, grace and peace. On the other, upheaval and chaos. There is much to be witnessed in a small amount of space and time, if only we take the moment to stop and observe. 

Admittedly, I found myself critiquing the anti President Obama sentiments as I watched. It may have something to do with the notion that I actually like President Obama; he's not perfect by any standard, but none of us are.  He inherited a big mess to work with, and I honestly think he's trying to do his best. Rather, I think my critique came from a place of unease about the tactics used. Call me an idealist, but I'm much more of a 'catch flies with honey' kind of gal. If the two demonstrators had set up a sign which read, "Ask me why I think we should impeach President Obama!" I'd be more likely to stop and engage in conversation. That's not to say I definitely would engage, but I'd be more likely to do so than with their current tactic. 

It's easy to see God and love in the communion table, in the elements of the bread and the cup. It is significantly harder to see God and love in the actions of the demonstrators, not particularly for what they espouse to believe but for the way they go about it. I don't know of many people who would say that Adolf Hitler was a good man. His name and image is enough to make people bristle in discomfort over the atrocities committed in NAZI Germany leading up to and during World War II.  His is an image which conjures the notion of hatred, it has been adopted to illustrate evil and the absolute worst society can offer. I will admit to not knowing every single act President Obama has carried out during his presidency, but I'm fairly certain he hasn't relegated an entire demographic to labor camps under excruciating conditions and death chambers or painful and inhumane scientific experiments for the benefit of his own political gain. 

Hatred, many say, is the antithesis of love. St. Augustine would say that everything, even evil, comes from a place of love; the evil happens when love goes wrong. If you've followed me to this point, congratulations! I'm still formulating my argument into coherent statements. 

My point is this, in everything you do, work from a place of love. The good, honest, piece of life-giving soul sharing love. The love that connects you to another human being in a way that tells you, "God is in this." Let love overflow, spilling from God to the earth to you to another person and beyond. To show love is to bring forth light and illuminate the dark and scary places. To receive love is to feel the strength and courage to address the dark spots in the hearts deep core. Giving and receiving says, "you do not walk alone." 

Love is stronger than hatred. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Super happy!

I got to see Mark and Lilly! I got to see Mark and Lilly! We had Thai for supper on Commonwealth and had some time to catch up. 

Lilly and I worked together over my year at New York Campus Compact, and I will forever cherish her guidance and mentoring. She is a gem and a true friend. 
Her husband Mark was a doctoral student at Cornell, and we used to carpool together many times a week. 

Well, we're all in Boston now, and it was an absolute treasure to see them for supper. Thanks, Mark and Lilly, for making my evening so sweet!

Now, back to school work!

Monday, October 14, 2013

And her blog update is short... VERY short.

Last week was crazy busy!  After spending time celebrating at the amazing nuptials of two friends, I had to return to reality and try to get some work done.  Ben and Corey, you throw an amazing party, and if I had to be behind on work, I am thrilled that it was because I spent time with you two. 

Seeing family was also a major plus.  I didn't get to see everybody, but I was able to see more than I thought, and I was able to got to church Sunday morning and surprise some folks there as well. 

I returned home to where I had three papers and a quiz, not to mention mountains of reading.  I didn't get all of the reading done, but I won't tell you for which classes.

Today I'm as a reading retreat.  My goal was to:
-Update my blog
-Revise a paper (one of last week's was a draft)
-Read approximately 100 - 150 pages
- Post for school blogs

Look!  I can already cross one thing off! 


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Surprise! A Thursday Post!!

I have a wild hair in me, so I'm taking a break from school to present an update.  That's not entirely true... I've had a crazy week.  And because two super awesome people are getting married this weekend, I thought I would blog now to... well to be sure I got it in.  And  there's a potential bonus that you might get a blog update on Monday as well. 

So, my week went something like this:
Monday at 3am: Awake with an excruciating migraine that makes me want to rip my cranium open.  If you aren't a migraine sufferer, imagine ... well I fail to put it into words that aren't exceptionally graphic.  Just imagine it's bad.  Really bad.  Lights hurt.  Sounds hurt.  Movement hurts. 
So, I lost a day of productivity because I slept all morning.  I had one class at 2pm, and despite still being in pain only went because I was set to lead the opening ritual.  I wore sunglasses.  Inside.  I am a badass.  My opening ritual involved listening to the song, 'Climbing Katahdin' which is a wonderful instrumental piece by David Huntsinger off his album "New England by Piano."  We listened to the music twice, the first time merely going wherever the music took us.  The second time we recorded thoughts or questions.  Afterward, we discussed a bit about what we felt through the music and what questions may have risen in our minds.  All in all it went quite well.
I left just more than halfway through class and went went to sleep for about three hours.  Awoke with a bit of a fuzzy headache, but it was MUCH better than before.

Tuesday was a day.  Nothing exceptional to report.  I spent much of my time in the library working on my thesis paper for reading the world.  I had a thesis in mind, but couldn't formulate the sentence.  In other times where this has happened I would simply begin writing and my argument would sharpen.  I'm pleased that this time wasn't any different.  With a word requirement of 1200, by about word 300 I had something going.  By word 700 I had sharpened it down, and by word 1150 I was able to revise the mess of a statement into a level of coherence that the paper reflected.  It worked out perfectly!  I've a bit of revision to go, and I need to format my in-text citations, but it's a solid paper.

Wednesday I co-led the opening ritual for another class with my guitar.  Taking my school stuff and my guitar on the T is not easy, but the mini Martin makes this journey much easier.  On this particular morning I held on to the pole and the top of the guitar bag as I rode along.  At one particular spot a young woman entered the train.  She proceeded to put her behind right against the pole I was holding onto, right against my hand.  Not once, not twice, but three times.  Because my hand was only partially holding the pole as it also prevented my guitar for toppling over with each turn or stop, I couldn't move my hand.  So, I touched a complete stranger's behind for the better part of 30 minutes.  That's all I'll say about that.  If I've learned one thing on the T, (okay, I've learned MANY things on the T) it's that personal space does not exist.
I've also found that I enjoy texting my siblings when I'm on the T.  It usually helps if they respond right away, but I know this isn't always an option.  It's simply become my time to drop a line and keep in touch with them. 

Thursday is today!  I had one class this morning, which was just fine.  I'm in the library until my discussion group at 4pm, and I'll be working on any one of the three papers I have due next week.  After discussion group I'll have a Sacred Worth meeting, followed by some more library time.  Tonight I'll likely go the Pubnight for a short while, then I'll head back home to begin preparing for HOME.  Did you see what I did there..?  It's not strange to call my room at the Walker Center "home"... but it's not yet my real "Home."

That's about it for this week!

I'm looking forward to those I will see at home!


BONUS ROUND!  Okay, I fibbed.  I'm having a wonderful time in classes, and some of my professors come up with some pretty funny statements.  I'm going to try to include some of what I hear throughout the week here for you.

Tuesday 10.1 Dr. Neville said, "It is difficult to soar like an eagle when you're flying with turkeys."

Wednesday 10.2 Dr. Botta said, "The biblical God [pause] is quite weird."
When discussing Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac, the following discussion occurred..
Dr. Botta: What would Tony Soprano do if God asked him to kill his son?
Me: He certainly wouldn't do it!
Dr. Botta: Right. And God would end up dead in an accident.

Thursday 10.3 Dr. Neville left us with these kernels of wisdom:
 In understanding St. Augustine's idea of past, present and future: "Almost seventy-four years are in my past.  I don't know how many are in my future, but I should make it through the lecture."
"Some of our bad choices are evil, most are just stupid."