Monday, May 11, 2009

Reflections of a first-year graduate

Today is graduation day and honestly I'm dreading the sea of people I'll be forced to wade through -- more than 3,800. That's just the graduates. So you can imagine the burgeoning numbers with the families following behind. But I'm putting all of the anxiety of the day aside to celebrate the ending of a three-year journey for a select group of those 3,800 -- new friends at Candler I've met whose business card now reads with Master of Divinity (MDiv) behind their names. Today is about them -- about their ending of a chapter in their life story and the beginning of another.
But I guess it's also about me and where I have journeyed from and where I'm going.
Today officially marks my ending as a first-year MDiv student who came here wondering if she would even understand all the theology jargon. I still don't although I've picked up keep words here and there: christiological, eschatological, hermeneutical, homiletics, pedagogical.
Now if I can just use them all in a sentence!

Then there are the names of ancient theologians -- some who haunt me in my dreams -- Arius, Athanasius, St. Augustine, Cyril, Ireanaeus, St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Nostorius, Origen. All of these now make up who I am becoming -- a theologian. Just saying that sounds strange. Me, a theologian! Not what I grew up wanting to be -- but who I am becoming. And when I reflect on the journey thus far, it's not so bad. Sure, I now approach the Bible differently, look at it differently, and sometimes even wonder what I believe. Because as a friend reminded me, in seminary we don't embrace the Bible, but rip it to shreds, tear it apart to examine its skeleton, to make sense of that which oftentimes can't be explained.

Some of the knowledge is rich. Some, quite simply, is troubling. But in it all, I am becoming a richer minister, preacher and theologian for it. And in some way, the doubts I have, the questions I ponder over are becoming the places where I am finding God.

A few weeks ago, I scribbled a note about how even after a whole school year, I find myself wondering why Emory let me through the door. At the time, I was reminded of what a dancer said to me following our dance class. She told me that there would be some dances I won't get no matter how hard I try because my body isn't made for that dance. So, all I could do is simply study the movement and go through the motions as best I can. But there would be others, she said, I would pick up quickly and move about gracefully as if the dance was made for me.

I thought about that and compared it to my seminary experience. There will be aspects of my learning that I simply won't get. My brain just won't compute. But that's okay, because there will be some theological dances I'll pick up with little effort.

And those I don't. . . well, I'll just have to rely -- like I did much of this year -- on my dance partner to sashay me through the ending of the song.

Happy Graduation Juana! One year down. A lifetime of learning to go . . . .

No comments: