The drives are long. Tiring. Seven weekends in a row of back and forth. Back and forth. Back. And. Forth. Two months of whirlwind travel. Tears in the car. Of frustration. Of homesickness. Occasionally of fear. Fear of traveling in inclimate weather. Fear that this schedule will rip me in two.
On Thursday I nearly lost it completely because after an hour and 15 minutes of driving, we realized we forgot to grab our dress clothes from the closet door. The dress clothes we needed for chapel dedication and a class discussion with clergy. The dress clothes our seminary president requested we wear. And so we turned around and drove back home. Twoandahalfhours to land back where we started — home. And I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t want to spend another 4.5 hours on the road. I didn’t want to get in late and have to wake up early and feel as if I left my mind somewhere on I-70. So I cried while Allyn hugged me and pretended that his wife hadn’t gone completely crazy. And then we got back in the car and drove across the state. Again.
And that is what it is like to be in seminary. Glamorous, no? Sometimes I wonder if it is worth it. If I can handle it. If it will be more than I can take.
Luckily there are moments of sanity, moments of clarity. This weekend they came as they often do, through the help of a friend. My friend Kate spoke at the new chapel dedication about her own seminary journey. She is graduating with her M.Div. next month and shared about the encouragement she has received at Central — about how she has found her voice. And I think back to two years ago when I was first approached to start this journey full time. I think of the questions I had — of the questions that had been buried deep inside me for nearly as far back as I can remember. Questions of calling and giftedness.
Central helped Kate develop her gifts and to discover things about herself that she didn’t know. And Central is doing the same thing for me now. Much is in the classroom, but much also comes from the encouragement of the community. From fellow students. From professors. From directors of seminary relations. From all those who are walking alongside me, lifting me when I’m at a breaking point.
I continue on because I am reminded of what God is doing in the world — walking alongside the hurting, offering shalom (to quote my friend Leroy). And I want to be part of that. No, it doesn’t requite a degree. But why miss out on the community that is forming me, that is helping me see myself — and perhaps see God — more clearly… or at least more authentically (since both God and me seem to be too far beyond my brain capacity to be clear)?
So I press on. Knowing that breaks are coming. Both breaks in schedule and breaks mentally. I know I will break down many more times along this journey. But I’m also confident that there is a community waiting to hold me and remind me of who I am.