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My Two Years of Seminary

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GraduatioBooks2n is just 5 days away and today was yet another reminder of how unfortunate it is that I have been operating on fast forward. My days have been so preoccupied with thoughts of approaching deadlines and appointments that several times I have found myself in the midst of scheduling events for the very day that I walk across the stage, only to be reminded by another of what day it will be. So today I took a moment to pause … breathe … and reflect on my two years in seminary.

As I have shared with many of my classmates and colleagues, I came to seminary with a lot of questions about the intersections of religion and public health. However, I also came to seminary knowing that during my 2nd year I would once again apply to graduate school to obtain my terminal degree. What I didn’t know was which field I would pursue this degree in. Would I stick with the theology course and pursue a ThD (Doctorate in Theology) or a PhD in Religion? Would I return to the field of public health in pursuit of a PhD in Public Health? Or would it be some other to be determined degree and field altogether?

I entered the doors of seminary quasi focused and with a lot of questions and concerns – both personally and professionally. I found myself challenged in ways unimaginable and even from my first semester, I learned to surrender my ego and ask for help. I learned more about the Bible and denominational history than I ever imagined, but was also exposed to other religious traditions and practices. I lost myself in a world of scholars and activists who saw religion as more than a once or twice a week activity; for them it was a daily practice used to do a myriad of things, including respond to social justice issues in the world. I read the works of authors that caused me to rethink much of what I have processed about how we conduct our lives day to day and I heard the vastness of experiences from my classmates of what brought them to the very same place.

For me, seminary was one of THE most diverse collections of people I have ever experienced. Unlike many other disciplines, my time there brought together others from all walks of life, with a variety of professional experiences all with intentions of doing very different things under the umbrella of ministry. And unlike any of school or work environment I have been in, my classmates taught me what it means to both be called and respond to the calling. They taught me about passion, about gifts and about the way in which God directs our paths to do “the work our souls must have” (Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon).

My time in seminary was so much more than just another degree – it was a life altering experience, a confirmation of where I am headed and a timely interjection in the busy world of work and professional endeavors. My two years both helped me professionally and healed me personally. So as I prepare for graduation and take time to breathe and to celebrate, I also take to give thanks for such a transformative experience.

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Sunday Musings Part III: Gossip Mill

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GossipThis post has been on my mind and in my heart for a long time!!! The infamous gossip mill … those negative and slanderous conversations that seem to seep into the corners of all our mouths about another. Whether in truth or lies, I have never known the gossip mill to have many positive outcomes. I am not referring to those conversations that are intentional or unintentional in praising another, offering accolades or using one’s story as a way to inspire another. I am referring to those conversations that we seek due to our own insecurities, the ones we indulge in to somehow help us feel better about ourselves or our lives or the ones we partake in as a way of proving that the subject does not in fact have it all together.

My most recent experiences with the gossip mill have been most painful and are probably one of the worst forms of this activity – gossip perpetuated by those close to me. These are the people that have my number, know how to reach me on any given day and that I have shared many conversations with. However, instead of calling to talk with me directly, they participate in the gossip mill. They whisper behind my back, ask others the very questions that could easily be asked of me or make passive aggressive comments with little to no sensitivity. And while none of this is new under the sun, the one thing that I have learned is that there is an extreme the lack of compassion that accompanies the gossip mill. While others are busy comparing life stories and listing victories of defeat, there seems to be very little regard for the subject. Is s/he okay? Has any harm been done? In what ways – if any – can I be of assistance? In what ways is his/her story just like mine?

What the gossip mill fails to give voice to is that while we are busy chatting, someone is trying to put their life back together. Someone is investing time attempting to heal from hurt and pain. Someone is simply working to survive … all in the midst of mindless and unhelpful chatter. In the midst of this, I am reminded of the value – and scarcity – of those few who will stand with me without knowing or ever even asking for the details. I am thankful for those who comment on the side that “I am here if you need to talk.” And even for those who my sharing has no personal benefit whatsoever, but they choose to talk with me in private, I am appreciative. In what ways have you contributed to the flow of the gossip mill and who have you harmed in the process of your own self-indulgence?

Sunday Musings Part II: Distracted Focus

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Distractions1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I think I am the ONLY one who gets so far off track and so distracted by life’s minute pleasantries. What is it about my personality and choices that often leads to grand detours from where I know I should be? A faulty choice of friendship, a longing desire to belong to the common crowd or a seemingly minor choice in how I want to spend my Friday nights seems to take me down a road of ostensibly no return.

But this morning I dedicated myself to re-finding my center. I woke up in peaceful meditation and devotion. I committed some additional prayer time to a few friends and family members. I went to church!!! I commit to re-finding my focus, getting back on track, reducing the distractions. Have you ever experienced this – those moments when you look up and ask who am I and how did I get here? Do you ever think how did I get so far away from where I knew I should be going? Have you ever questioned why this distraction at this time? Do you have these moments or am I alone on this one?

Sunday Musings Part I: My Mother’s Love

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As I imagine is the case for many, I have my moments – sometimes weeks or months at a time – when I can’t find my writing mojo. And then there are others when I am overwhelmed with writing topics. Today was and is one such day, so I am entitling these next few short posts Sunday Musings.

My Mother’s Love

Mothers Love

As we prepare for Mother’s Day and I prepare for a visit from my mom, my mind has begun to bring forth many pleasant thoughts of her. This morning while getting dressed for church, I thought of our one of our Sunday morning rituals while growing up at home: she is up at 5am cooking and shortly thereafter Gospel music is blasting over the radio speakers. The songs that I often hear on the radio today remind me of those mornings – all that happened in our home before we reached the church ground. And while sitting in church today, I thought that God found time to craft her life in ways that have helped me to become so much of who I am. Her love and her support, but also her decisions, her sacrifices, and the lessons I learned about life through watching her many struggles have crafted me into the woman I am continuing to become. In spite of the hardships we encountered as I grew up and many that she continues to endure today, I now know that any deviation in our story would alter my present being. As I prepare to celebrate yet another milestone with my mother, I am so very thankful for her love. I am thankful for her attempts to mother me in the best ways she knew. I am thankful that even when my decisions were and continue to be so different from her own life’s path, she cradles me with loving arms and says I am proud of you!

Unfit for Human Consumption: How nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat escaped into the food supply

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Interesting, but not the least bit shocking!!!

Eatocracy

CNN Exclusive by Chris Frates and Shannon Travis. 

PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA — Earlier this year, a dusty little slaughterhouse in Northern California was ground zero for one of the biggest meat recalls in years. Rancho Feeding Corp. had called back nearly 9 million pounds of bad meat from thousands of unsuspecting stores across the country.

The story of how millions of pounds of bad meat – products the U.S. Department of Agriculture called “unfit for human food” — made it out into the world and triggered a criminal investigation is one of staggering deception and cancerous cows, federal officials familiar with the investigation tell CNN. And the plant where it all went down was also the setting for an illicit romance, according to documents obtained by CNN.

Federal investigators started surveillance on the California facility after getting a tip from a former Rancho employee. In January, federal marshals raided the Petaluma…

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