My first year of seminary is complete!!! The last class was Wednesday. Seniors graduated yesterday and I am no longer a first year student. I am now officially a second year student (middler in seminary parlance).
In August, as we were struggling through the two week intensive Summer Greek, we wondered if we would ever survive even that, let alone our first year. Teaching Parish was a formative experience for us. We have made friends with whom we have laughed and cried together. We have formed traditions, like going out together on Friday nights for dinner. We have had silly times like the peeps diorama contest and decorating the Martin Luther statue like a beloved prof. There have been flag football competitions and croquet tournaments, struggling with translating scripture and moments when the lightbulb in our heads has gone on. The year has been a wonderful growing experience for us all. We are not the same people we were in August.
In many ways it has been a difficult year for this community of faith as well. There have been tragedies of all kinds: a classmate in a car accident, a premature baby still struggling for life, a son recently released from the ICU, an intern's son that committed suicide, a friend whose spouse is leaving. The list goes on. As long as the list may be, God's grace and faithfulness are greater.
It is all at once a happy and sad time. We will miss those that have graduated and will be far away on their first calls. Those that are now third year students, interns, will be out of the area for the most part. When they return for their senior year, we will be on internship, likely outside this area.
For my classmates and myself, we all have a few weeks before starting CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education). We are all over the country with only a few of us within commutable distance from the seminary. For myself and many others, CPE begins May 26th and ends the beginning of August.
There is a remnant that is remaining on campus throughout the summer. As the number of tourists on campus increases, the number of students decreases. It will be a quieter place than usual.
We are entering a summer pregnant with possibilities: new calls, internship, CPE, and much that is unknown. This prayer we pray so often never ceases to be meaningful:
O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pictures top to bottom: LTSG chapel, ice storm, Ray (left) and his caddy Sean at LTSG croquet tournament.