There is something to be said about grace and mercy. I truly give it credit for helping me through my first semester. Cause it really wasn't me! I'm glad to say I ended it -- a week ago -- with two A's and a B- (you know this had to be Old Testament! There was that time I went on that reading strike, remember? Never really did quite recover. When you lose ground here, it's almost impossible to regain your footing. You just pick up from where you are.)
Just four short months ago, I was wondering if I would even make it through. My head was dizzy from trying to remember the two accounts of the creation and flood stories and how they relate to the Ancient Near Eastern accounts, the make up of the Holiness Code, the Sinai and Davidic covenants and which Biblical scholar said what about Joshua and the battle of Jericho and whether the walls of the city really did come tumbling down. The teachings of Martin Luther King, Jr., Ghandi, Walter Wink and his perspective on the Powers and their place within the Domination System fought for space in my brain as I struggled with doubt, battled insecurities about my intellect, my writing ability (if you can believe it) and waivered in my faith.
I sat in classes not knowing what the hell people were saying, barely slept at night and produced papers, almost consistently, at the 11th hour. And even now, I wonder if anything really stuck. Some say it'll make sense by my third year. Let's hope so!
In the midst of all of that, I've attempted to make sense of where my new found ministry -- the homeless and destitute -- will lead me. I question how my experience there will manifest itself in my overall ministry. I wonder if I should already be designing some sort of ministry. And I battle with feelings of angst and disappointment at the current systems which seems to perpetuate what I see rather than offer solid solutions. The encounters prompt me to want to act. Maybe because I've come to realize they could be me. Maybe because I realize they -- at some point in their life -- was someone like me. They just fell on hard times. In seminary we recognize these calls to action as an epiphany of recruitment -- the point at which you feel compelled to respond to a need of humanity. And lately, my sensitivity meter has been so keen that it's had me nearly crying in Publix at the site of deli workers tossing hours old Rotisserie chicken in the trash.
Now that I think about it, maybe that's what part of me being here is all about -- learning how to recognize the voice of the world calling for help and me being prepared to respond. Maybe it's not really all about which stories in the Bible are fables, sages or short stories, a narrative or whether the event happened in the postexilic or exilic period. Maybe all of this is really about the overall ministry experience, a preparation for what is to come. I used to think I knew where God was leading me, now I'm not so sure. But after what I witnessed this semester, I know at least grace and mercy will be on the heels of my tennis shoes.
I'm counting on it to be there when I stand in that pulpit on January 4 in the Bahamas. Cause at this point, only God knows what I'm going to say.