Saturday, January 10, 2009
Between the Firsts and the Lasts
As this past year drew to a close and I am now halfway through my J-term class, I am halfway through my coursework at LTSG. A semester until internship, and the knowledge that the time after internship will fly. And at this halfway point, lots of things have begun to crystallize in new ways, and perhaps this is my epiphany. This time last year, I like some of the juniors I talked to this year, had that sense of brief relief, having survived that first semester, and discovering that coming back to school was, in some ways, a relief- to be with people who understand this whole "becoming a pastor thing." Yet this year, I am ready to head out to internship, because after the summer at the hopsital "doing," I am itchy to get out where this whole "pastor thing" happens, not just talk about it. And after starting seminary feeling like it was all swirling wildly, knowing that the swirl has a Director. As I listen to those who are in the junior class, I hear them saying the very things my peers and I said last year, knowing that the seniors can say the same about us middlers. There is a certain joy in being able to see where one was, with one foot into the future unknown, when it is framed in discernment in the community here.
But as sure as I say that, I am, I daresay, impatient. Yet, I know that this year is in so many ways a gift. A gift of time to luxuriate in learning. To know that I have traveled from that first day of Greek to probably the last class with a professor who has been a mainstay in my seminary learning, and to bask in that one moment of praise. A time to draw my family close in ways that will not always be possible. A time to enjoy the sparkle of the face of LC#1 and her boy. I gaze upon the Adorable Couple, knowing that this first real "romance" is also a marker of the time which will be the last of high school, far sooner than I expected it. To watch as LC#2 is even more quickly hurtling toward that same direction, or at least it seems that warp speed has been activated.
A time to move closer toward that goodbye to my home parish. And to stand in the tension of finally having preached to the home flock for the first time,and to soak up their welcome, but also to know that I have probably sung my last Christmas Eve with them; my last Christmas Eve solo. Yet, to feel a peace in this new status after many months of angst over it.
And indeed to prepare the inlaws for the reality that we will not be with them next Christmas Eve, and to incur the blast of wrath for "taking them away just because of something you think you have to do." To be shopping with my mother who is still trying to buy me things I will not wear, in the time when there are only so many days outside of clerics. To hear her say she still cannot get that through her head, but to gently tell both women in my family that in fact over the next year, this change will come.
And finally ending the last vestige of my active legal practice- having now articulated when the last work will be for the two communities I represent, which happens to coincide with when my good friend and town manager is retiring, so we will "ride off into the sunset" at the same time, having had what will probably be the last business lunch before we each leave this community in different ways.
Between now and internship, and all of those classes, I continue working several times a month as a chaplain, and to this there is one more first and last. I have gone from the first day of CPE when the facility and all it entailed seemed impossible to fathom, to completing CPE. But now as I did this fall, again this week, I will be helping to train one of the new interns in a shadowing process and to recall where I have been in new ways.
While I am beginning to think about where God may place me for internship, I give thanks for the Spirit's showing that this pattern of firsts and lasts is not one we experience in isolation, but in prayer and contemplation, and in the community with all of those who are placed here in our midst as instruments to that purpose.