It's late afternoon and I am sitting at a small table in a small quadrangle, surrounded by brick Georgian buildings and dogwood trees in bloom. I am reading and highlighting a commentary about John 21:1-14, the passage on which I am working for my trimester project in Greek. At one point I look up,at the library right in front of me and the chapel to my left, and think: this is unbelieveable. I am in seminary. I am studying for the ministry. This is what I am doing with my "one wild and precious life." (Hat tip to Mary Oliver.)
Within an hour, four other people show up to sit with me. A young man the age of my twin sons, talking about what it's like to move directly from college to seminary. Do Not Pass Go, do not collect $200, do not experience the world of work or home ownership or whatever. He feels a little green and a little at sea; I respond with talk about how the young people have encouraged me to question some of my most precious assumptions and predilections. A young man in his late 20s, talking about the paper we've all just written on the Trinity. None of us are too happy with what we've produced. A young woman, off to tweak the same paper before she turns it in. The wife of the second young man, very pregnant and very exhausted. We are all of us not a little surprised to be nearly finished with our first year, and delighted by the friendships we've formed. The first young man offers me what feels like a major compliment: he hopes we are in the same section next year of the course in which we will be reflecting upon our field experiences in various churches.
So, yeah, here I am. Fifty-four years old, married for nearly thirty-four of those years. Three children: the boys are twenty-three and newly graduated and employed in their college cities: Chicago and Columbus; the girl is twenty and finishing her junior year in Prague before returning to college in Oregon. I attend a Presbyterian seminary full-time, living in a dorm during the week with people mostly in their twenties. I'm also in a certification program for spiritual direction at a Catholic university in my home city, a couple of hours away. I've been a lawyer and a teacher and now I am settled on the second half of my life. (I plan to meet my grandmother's 100-year challenge.)
I've moved way out of my comfort zone this year, and it's been a spectacular experience.
And if you're wondering: Progressive theology, liberal politics, traditional worship. Probably as ecumenical as they come. Birds, photography, nature, walking, canoeing, hiking, travel.
It's nice to be here!