The Letter I Wish I Could Write ;-)

Episcopal seminarians are required to write letters to their bishop describing their progress, etc. at seminary. I’m trying to write one now.

We are given very little guidance on these letters, but obviously this is not time to spill your guts about what your colleagues are up to, to tell you boss in purple that you’re not sure about this God thing anyway, or whine about the size of your dorm room. But what if???

Dear Bishop,

Hi from the Old Seminary. Despite the size of my apartment (check in your closet for a shoebox if you are looking for exact dimensions) I am learning that most people here in the Center of the Universe live in rat infested holes in the wall that they pay two to three times as much for. Getting used to the lack of privacy, the street noise, the twilight coming into my bedroom window 24 hours a day from the air shaft, and the presence of rats out on the streets has been charming. I am coming to regard the grass and trees at the seminary as the luxuries they are, since most people have only concrete.

Grocery shopping is my favorite part of life here in the Center of Sophistication. Ever heard of the old engineering axiom about Cheap, Fast, Good – pick two? Well, groceries here are like that. Cheap, Clean, Well-Stocked – pick two. Or sometimes just one. I guess when you’re trying to fit your Sex and the City bod into the denim and black uniform of the week food is not all that important. Rumor has it that there is paradise to be found in New Jersey. We may venture there soon.

We are truly living in Christian community here. All resources, such as the benches on the pathways, the tennis court, and the albs in chapel (never washed for that “old” smell!) are shared in common. Well, except for those 4 guys that live in the building that used to be the subdeanery. It’s about the size of 10 of my apartment. But who’s keeping track? Anyway, speaking of that palatial abode, you should have been there the other night. You’ll never guess who was playing beer pong (nope, not me, wrong guess!) I guess there really is some truth to that saying about Episcopalians that whenever two or three (or forty) are gathered there’s usually a fifth (of liquor!)

Anyway, I’m working on getting used to the Chilly Chapel (and no, the air conditioning isn’t on!) Avoiding smiling, laughing, clapping, or any inward sense of joy takes some practice, but I’m getting it. I am also practicing my “Extreme Book Balance” technique which allows me to balance a prayer book, a psalter, the seminary’s hymnal, the service leaflet, and an alternate form of the service written in Hindi in my hands all at once. This is clearly training for baptizing squirming infants, and it is not for the weak armed or faint of heart.

Anyway, I must get back to the assigned reading for NT entitled “Why the Good Ol’ Boys Were Right About Paul.” In related news, I was mistaken for the wife of a seminarian for the first time over the weekend. Is that because I had brushed my hair, put on makeup and earrings, and found a pair of shoes that don’t fall into the category of “flip flop”?

Say hello to the diocese for me, especially those folks who don’t like women clergy.

Your Seminarian,



~ by Sophia on September 17, 2006.

6 Responses to “The Letter I Wish I Could Write ;-)”

  1. Hoo boy, does this sound familiar! Chilly Chapel… Sophisticated Croceries… and the ever-popular Book Balance (we called it the Seabury Shuffle, but apparently we do not have the patent after all). Guess there’s more in common between seminaries than I knew. (^_^)If this is not your actual Ember Day letter to the bish, then I hope you’ve got someone at home to send it to. And I’m glad you shared it with us.

  2. Yikes! Definitely not sending this to the purple person!But Computer Guy aka Law Student read it and laughed. This is good. Law students often have trouble with humor, it takes away some of the adrenaline required to survive in their world. 🙂I don’t know if we call the book balancing thing anything in particular, but it makes me crazy on some days. One night last week at Evensong I was just not with the program, and the harder I tried to find the orange tab, or the blue tab, or the gosh darned clear tab, the more confused I got. Then there was something listed as just a number. I couldn’t figure out for anything which of the 7 books it was from. DUH! The Hymnal 1982! Who knew? That just seemed too easy… 🙂Now, if I could only find ground beef for under $5.50 a pound…

  3. Not sure if I qualify to send a sympathetic hug, given that I trained on a regional course, so didn’t have to leave home at all….but you have my prayers and my sympathies (and a measure of gratitude at puncturing my belief that all US seminaries are per se wonderful in every way!).Take care. Keep laughing. x

  4. You could start the letter “Yo Bish”I would think a bishop with a good sense of humor might like it for a change 🙂 – I enjoyed it, but I’m no bishop!

  5. Nicely said – I think you’ve captured it all. Welcome to the Old Seminary!

  6. Kathryn,This letter does not at all mean I don’t like it here. I really do, although it takes a bit of adjusting. Think Harry Potter in his first few weeks at Hogwarts. 🙂It’s got its issues just like any other institution, but my classmates and the personal care and attention of the faculty make it an amazing place to attend seminary.Just recently the juniors (1st year students) were treated to an old and fun tradition at the hands of the middlers (2nd year students.) It was goofy and fun and filled with very geeky seminary humor. But underlying all that was the sense that those who have gone before us are keeping an eye on us. It’s a good thing. Thursday night all new students sign their names in the matriculation book during Evensong. There are almost 200 years of signatures in that book. Maybe not a long time by UK standards, but still very impressive. Some think it’s kind of silly, but I am very excited. It gives me chills. Talk about a cloud of witnesses!

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