It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

In short, many good and bad things happened these past ten days. On the good side, I was treated to two incredibly beautiful (and free) choral performances, both sponsored by Yale’s Institute of Sacred Music. The first was an Evensong service performed by Yale’s Schola Cantorum and several musicians, including Martin Jean, a world-famous organist and the director of the Institute of Sacred Music. The second was at Christ Church, an extremely Anglo-Catholic church with a formal choir with carved wooden screens and a formal altar. Again, it was Evensong, but this time it was performed by a men and boy’s choir from New York City. It was exquisite.

I also am getting to know some of my fellow seminarians and have gone cassock shopping with some and out to dinner with others. Cassock shopping is not your usual girly shopping expedition: they all look pretty much the same, so the goal is to get the cheapest one. My challenge is to find a short one, and as I expected, it will have to be custom made.

Other good things: I love my classes and seem to know what’s going on in them, although I can’t seem to keep paper deadlines in memory. In class, my most frequent question of fellow students is, “When is the paper due?” They can’t believe that I don’t remember. But I am twenty years older than most of my fellow students, and I have many important questions running through my head such as, “Is there any bread left at home? Did I let the dog out this morning? Where did I park the car?”

We have been comparing the Matthean and Lucan birth narratives in the New Testament, studying the Carolingian times of Charlemagne and his effects upon European Christianity, delving into Schleiermacher’s magnum opus, The Christian Faith, a huge system of doctrine, and learning about the role of the state in Sunni and Shiite Islam. Daily, I play with German phrases such as “I eat soup in the cafeteria” in my head and find it hard to believe that I ever will read scholarly theological articles in German.

On both the good and bad side, I finally, finally signed the closing papers for my condo purchase, almost six weeks after the date we were supposed to close. I was told that they were going to give me a break on the per-diem rental fees they were charging me since the delays were due to the sellers’ HOA president’s mistake, but they did not give me any break. I was too tired of the whole deal to be angry.

Also, my six-week old HP Minibook laptop, which had four weeks’ worth of class notes and paper thoughts, crashed, and the data is unrecoverable, according to the Geek Squad at Best Buy. I forgot to back stuff up. Fortunately, many fellow classmates have offered to share their notes with me. I quickly reconstructed a short pre-paper paper from memory, but alas, had to rebuild the bibliography from scratch at the library.

15th-century painting of St. Francis meeting with the Sultan Al-Kamil (some of the earliest Christian/Muslim dialogue!)

Fortunately, regular worship reminds me that none of this little stuff really matters in the big scheme of things. Among the many beautiful worship services I attended this week, one stood out: the weekday chapel service sponsored by East Asian students. We entered to Asian flute music and PowerPoint sides of Asian art and listened to readings from Asian Christians and two brief homilies from an Asian-American student and a visiting student from Korea. Many students wept during the service….

In closing, since it is 1:26 a.m. on October 4th, happy Francistide! May the joy, love, and humor of St. Francis be yours, too. I renew my Franciscan profession of vows at the Episcopal Eucharist in Marquand Chapel on Oct. 7.

One thought

  1. Jannine:

    Such rich experiences you have had and will have. It must be a difficult path of study but one with much joy and promise for you.

    I do enjoy reading of your experiences there and am so happy you can share them with us. May God bless your work there and give you much joy. I evy the music and the fine oragnist you have there.
    Best ever,
    Ken

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