The luxury of writing a paper

When I first came to seminary, I struggled with the feeling of being yanked out of the “real world.” I knew what I was good at – real, “in the trenches” ministry with real people in real churches. That was, after all, a big part of what inspired me to follow a call to ordination in the first place.

It was hard to be in this new place, with basically nothing to do but go to class and get my bearings. I resented only carrying a torch and serving the chalice in chapel; I hated church shopping looking for a field placement; I missed my internship church and my youth group kids at two different churches terribly.

I later came to realize that getting my bearings in this community and adjusting to all the changes in my life and my marriage would take all of my energy. I came to understand that carrying processional torches was enough for one year. The other things would follow in their own time, more swiftly than I realized. It wasn’t until I no longer had the luxury of church shopping that I appreciated the freedom it gave me. Gone now are the large chunks of free time on the junior schedule and the peace that comes when one isn’t living life in a parish fishbowl.

But perhaps most important was what one of my best friends said to me one day. It was something along the lines of “I’d give my left arm for the luxury of full time study of my religious tradition.” Not long thereafter my OT professor (who always seems to pray just the prayer you need on just the day you need it) opened a class with a prayer of thanksgiving for the gift of study, and a reminder that graduate students only exist in times and places of great peace and prosperity. What we are able to do here is an extraordinary gift, available not only to very few people worldwide, but available to only a very few in the history of humanity.

I’m spending this afternoon in our tiny interim library (major construction project underway) sharing a table and a power strip for laptop power with friends. The afternoon light is streaming in bright rays through large windows that look out over a beautiful (if freezing cold) Close. I’m not exactly thrilled about spending most of the day writing a paper on the German pietist movement. It occurs to me, however – some day I will miss the extraordinary gift of these afternoons.


~ by Sophia on February 11, 2008.

3 Responses to “The luxury of writing a paper”

  1. Oh, yes!Beautiful post…

  2. I don’t think I’ll miss writing the papers, but I’ll miss sitting at the table with my peers – talking about what we are doing, processing what is happening to us, and sharing our experience. I will miss that luxury so much.

  3. Amen.I’m one of those rare creatures who loves to write papers, even the less than thrilling topics, and mostly have to work to not get too deeply into the hole of a given subject once I start typing. The gratifying thing to me is that I will continue to write, albeit in a different style and to different ends, as a priest who preaches. The scholarship and the pastoral care go hand in hand. I’m gratful that I’m learning the skills to do this. It’s a blessing, isn’t it?

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