Galatians 5:25 says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” With each visit, my prayer is to pay attention to what God is saying about His desires for my formation. This time of discernment is not about finding my favorite seminary but about finding the seminary best suited to form me for God’s ministry. At one visit, a comment that stuck with me was that we are each like oysters who can produce pearls but only because of the grit. Each school has their own distinct, wonderful attributes. However, in addition to the aspects that may “woo” me, I need to watch for the pearl producing grit. Something that I don’t like might be exactly what God wants to use to mold me. I regularly remind myself that this decision is not about my desires but about His guidance.
At each seminary, I pay close attention to several aspects. In addition to the classes, work and the instructors, I look at how “community” is fostered. I go to every opportunity for chapel and Eucharist as possible (which varies from place to place) and pay attention to liturgy and preaching. In meeting with the students, I ask questions about how the seminary assists with spiritual direction and prayer life. The final decision will require an analysis of all these things and the ways God can use them in my life and calling.
At this point, however, I can report that God has made it abundantly clear that one of the two schools visited so far can be removed from my list. Sewanee, despite its beautiful, mountain-top setting is not where God intends to form me. When we pray for a sign and/or pray for guidance, we need to be prepared and pay attention because God WILL answer! There were so many signs that I was in the wrong place at Sewanee (including actually being in the wrong place for Morning Prayer the first day) that it became laughable as the visit progressed. On the first day I was content to consider that the “signs” might actually be the “grit”. However, on the second day it became apparent that this was not pearl producing grit and I found myself crying, “Uncle! Enough already with the signs! I get it! I hear you loud and clear!”
One other thought I’ll leave you with regarding each of these visits is the wonder of how “small” our church is. Each visit has me seeing old friends of Grace Church: Sue von Rautenkranz, Michael & Lauren Bordelon, Sherry Smies. Each visit has members of our diocese asking me to bring greetings to those known at the various institutions. Upon return, I end up bringing numerous greeting back. I’ve been astounded at how well so many within our diocese are known around the country. We are “one body”, interconnected in so many ways.
Two visits completed. Two visits to go. One seminary ruled out.
Please keep me in your prayers for discernment and travel mercies. I know without a doubt that my safe return despite an ice storm in TN was thanks to many prayer warriors. Thanks be to God! Your prayers are coveted and give me strength. Have a blessed Lent.
By His Love, Bobbi