It has been awhile since my last post, partially because I have been experiencing so many new things and getting settled into my new home, new life, as a student at Chicago Theological Seminary. I moved into Disciples Divinity House on the 23rd of August, went on an orientation retreat with fellow first year students on the 25th, began classes last week, and have started to campus jobs, as well. This non-stop rush of excitement is, to say the least, the way I prefer things in my life. But, I pause to reflect briefly on each of them, to take a breath and be thankful for these new experiences that will shape my next few years of life in seminary and most surely my ministerial career.
The decision to apply and move into DDH has mainly Hattie and Amy Bertschausen to thank. My lovely girlfriend suggested I talk to her mom who lived in DDH when she was in seminary. So I did. It turns out this housing program is both affordable, but also rich in spiritual community, lovely amenities, and wonderful people. My room is nice and the shared facilities, which feels like a part of Hogwarts, makes me feel both comfortable, as well as overwhelmed by the historic nature of this building. The vast majority of the residents are University of Chicago Divinity School students, so they will not move in for another week. Read the rest of this entry
After graduating on Sunday, which consisted of a wonderful time with family and friends, I have spent the last few days in Appleton, Wisconsin, with Hattie and her family. Hattie and her parents work during the day, which leaves Ian, her brother, and me to do little odds and ends around the house in preparation for Ian’s Graduation (from high school) Party which will be this coming Saturday. I do not mind the work; in fact, I appreciate it because it is both a change of pace from academic and extra-curricular work (interfaith leadership, UU leadership, etc.). Upon reflection, these odds and ends are neither odd nor ends: they are the means through which I can evaluate and even out, or balance, my psyche, heart, and soul, as I move into this summer of great transition.
I want to reflect on one of these activities, as it has had a rather powerful impact on me over the past few days: Cleaning Gutters. The Bertschausen Home has a window on the second floor that measures about seven inches fully opened (or at least that was as far as I could make it open). By crawling through this space one could make it onto the roof, where the gutters not rigged with leaf guards could be accessed. I looked at the window with the ladle like scoop that Roger lent me to use in my hand, then down at my 6’1″, 180 lbs. frame. I repeated this a few times, as if by magic this would make these two pieces seem more compatible. Now or never. I stepped on the chair and crawled head first through the window. Read the rest of this entry
A couple days ago, I commented on the state of transitions in this country, namely how we, as a collective people, view and prepare for changes in our lives. In that article, I discussed some concerns I had about how our social structure fails to embrace this change and effectively prepare individuals who are going through transitions, ranging from coming of age to graduation to death. My hope is to reflect in this article on ways to make this transition more beneficial for all.
I write this as I just completed my last final exams at DePaul just over an hour ago. It is a time of great transition in my life and therefore this topic is of personal importance, as well. The concern I have with the issue at hand is that I feel that the transitions we face in life our not fully being embraced and recognized in all of the beauty and complexity they possess. It is an odd occurrence because innovation and change is appreciated and encouraged quite a lot in the marketplace in this country.
Thursday evening was an exciting day for students at Appleton East High School, as the seniors, their families, friends, and guardians gathered for the 44th Annual Commencement to honor the hard work and accomplishments over the past four years. I sat in the audience on relatively hard bleachers in a fairly cool gymnasium with Hattie and her mom and dad, as we waited anxiously to see Ian, Hattie’s younger brother, enter in the processional parade.
It has been four years since I have been in a similar situation, although that time I was waiting in an endless line with my classmates ready to graduate. I thought about gathering in the U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee wearing my cap, gown, and honor cords, and suddenly the emotions rushed back. Good and bad, but mainly good, the feelings of nostalgia and agedness began to creep over me as I sat on the gymnasium bleachers Thursday night, which felt harder and more painful than ever. In one week, I would be crossing a stage to graduate from college. Many thoughts and questions about the process of “coming of age,” “societal rites of passage,” and the infrastructures both private and public that support these times in human life began to ruminate and surface in my heart and mind.