I saw the comic above for the first time yesterday, when I went for my advisor meeting. It was on my advisor’s door. She has another comic I really like, too. Maybe I’ll post that one later. I have to say…it’s when I come across these little indicators that I am among kindred spirits that I start to feel like…just maybe I do belong here this year.
First, I want to thank all of you who posted comments on the last post. Those words of encouragement are very helpful as I really have no idea what I’m doing with this blog :-0! But I hope to have fun with it, and maybe it will be interesting for you, too. I also plan to try and keep the posts somewhat brief. And, if there is something in particular that a reader would like to hear more about, please let me know!
I am beginning my third year in seminary, but only the first year away from home. My first two years were spent at Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, and I truly loved it there. SU is a Jesuit school, which at first scared me. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that everyone there is incredibly open to people of all faiths, all beliefs, all backgrounds, all perspectives. Perhaps, though, what was the most comforting was that I was not among a bunch of 20 year olds where I felt incredibly old. Most of the people at STM are studying for their 2nd or 3rd careers. I found my age to be pretty much right in the middle of the ages of students. I really felt like I belong.
Life here at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) is different. Most of the students here are “pipeline” students, which means they have come here straight from finishing their undergraduate degree. I feel old. I can see, hear, and feel indications of the disparity in our ages in the discussions. For example, during one of the orientation sessions, a professor asked us what we thought we needed in order to successfully prepare for being a pastor. Most of the student groups gave very tangible answers: professors with experience, strong guidance, the right materials to get As in class. My group, which is a bit older as it included my two colleagues who are also here for one year from STM, gave more intangible answers. We need open-mindedness, both in ourselves and in our professors. People who will be open to different perspectives, backgrounds, and beliefs. We need encouragment and affirmation of how we are different as well as how we are the same so that we can feel the freedom to truly explore our beliefs and understandings.
I do not feel as though I belong. But… there are little glimmers of hope. Like the picture I posted above. And, I suppose there is a lot that I can learn from them…these kids ;-). They come with different experiences, too. I just hope I will always have the courage to be authentic in my comments and contributions.