Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Back to Kansas School for Ministry

The new school year has begun.  Once a month I will be travelling to Topeka to spend the weekend attending classes at the Kansas School for Ministry.  Hard to believe I've been following my calling to ordained ministry for over two years now -- the first was a year of discernment within my parish church, and the second one was my first year at KSM.  Just last year I drove to Topeka to begin my first year of studying for the priesthood, not knowing what to expect, knowing only that I was there because God had called me, it looked like the best education I could find that was within possibility for me, and my Bishop had agreed.  The Bishop of Kansas and the director of KSM also agreed to allow a student from outside their diocese to attend the school.  It wasn't too hard to find Grace Cathedral, and after that, not too hard to find Bethany House where we were to eat, sleep, study, and worship with our faculty and fellow students.  It is a lovely, homelike native limestone residence on the Cathedral grounds.  I walked in with my overnight bag, found myself a bed in the women's dorm, and sat down on it to wonder what was going to happen.

Two women walked in.  I didn't know it then, but they were going to be two of my best friends ever.  We went downstairs for our first dinner together and met the rest of the students. We found among them a man who turned out to be the fourth member of our class, and met a lot of other people who already knew one another and had already established friendships and routine ways of being together.

For the first time in my life I was among a group of people who talked about God.  We studied harder than we have ever studied in our lives, and fell in love with everything we were learning.  We could hardly believe that we all had been called to be there, to be spiritually stretched, intellectually challenged, psychologically growing in ways that we could not have imagined.  It was a magic time, a Camelot, an Avalon; it was the wardrobe of C.S. Lewis, a place where we bathed in the Holy Spirit, danced in the light of Christ.  We were sheltered in a place where we could trust we were safe while we tried on and began to learn a new version of who we are.

As the year wore on, we suffered an inevitable series of disillusionments, for we had to re-learn what we really had known all along:  that this side of heaven there really is no safe place.  We are pilgrims, each charged with discovering and walking our unique way into the heart of God.  Certainly this journey includes the charge to love and help one another, especially through times of pain and suffering, but ultimately, each of us walks alone.

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