November is a month many of us begin to look back over the course of the year and think to the year ahead. It is at this time that I am most aware of what has happened and is happening while what will happen remains a mystery. As I sit down to write this, I have just finished my first major exam (New Testament) of my time at seminary…with many more exams in my future! In this moment, I give thanks.
First, thanksgiving for what has happened up to the point. This past month, in the midst of our studies, we took time out to consecrate the new chapel here at VTS. It was a time of great celebration that brought in over a 1000 people including the former Presiding Bishop, the Presiding Bishop, the Presiding Bishop-Elect, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. There was much excitement and joyfulness. Yet, at the same time, even with so many notables present who are all part of the Body of Christ with me, I discovered that there was a touch of homesickness inhabiting my heart. It began with the delivery of my car from WI (thank you Scott Bailey), extended with the arrival of Dean Steven Peay from Nashotah for business, and was capped by time spent with our Bishop Gunter during and after the consecration.
Homesickness is not a bad thing in and of itself. It is a reminder of the many wonderful things that have made up our lives. I am happy to admit that I miss my family, my friends, my coworkers, the services at Grace, Diocesan activities (especially involving youth), reasonably priced groceries, manageable traffic, and the view of Lake Michigan. Thanks to Facebook and other forms of social media, I have managed to still remain connected while no longer being present. Yet, also have discovered that there is no substitution for being “present.” The same could be said of our “faith journey” which requires us to be present in order to continue forward. “Homesickness” could be destructive if it is allowed to overshadow the road ahead.
Second, thanksgiving for what is happening in my life and the lives of those around me. It was (and is) the love and support of SO many that enabled me to step out in fear, with confidence, to begin this journey. Currently, the studies are intense. Yet, the greatest formation that has taken place so far is the discovery that my education here is about more than remembering historical facts and textual criticisms. I’ve discovered that, in addition to the “knowledge” of the information, I must learn to use my own voice to share it and not attempt to replicate someone else’s. God has put it on my heart to minister to others. I need to learn the information but then express it with the “voice” I have and allow the Spirit to speak through it. I may never write a doctoral thesis on the saints like Gregory of Nyssa, Basil of Caesarea, and their sister, Macrina the Younger, but I love to ponder and share about this family and how our own families aren’t much different, despite the fact that theirs included four saints!
Third, thanksgiving for our loving Father who sent His beloved Son to redeem us and for the Holy Spirit who sustains us throughout our daily lives. We have been brought together in One Body through our Lord and Savior. To be sustained, we must present to God daily. Thankfully God has given us multiple ways in which to do so; time spent in the Word, in Prayer, and in Community. The combination of those three provides a wealth of sustenance! Thanks be to God!
Keeping you all in my prayers and asking yours for Kaleigh, me, and our studies.
By His Love and With Thanksgiving,