Well, what a week. I realize I say that every week, but really, seminary is pretty exciting and intense. I had two big tests last week: a midterm in New Testament Interpretation and a big test in German; I had to submit some research for one of my Church History papers; and on Oct. 7, I renewed my Franciscan profession of vows in front of the entire Episcopal seminary community at Yale at our weekly Wednesday evening Eucharist, and that was a pretty big deal for me, and it turns out, for many in the community as well. In addition to all THAT, my Schleiermacher professor had invited a Schleiermacher scholar with an upcoming book on Mr. S. to visit our seminar, so I couldn’t slack on that reading this week….
In the midst of all this, my car battery died (right before my profession renewal), and the evening before my two tests and research paper were due, my dog got very sick and needed to be taken outside several times throughout the night. So I arrived at my New Testament midterm and German test without any study or sleep the night before, and this didn’t seem to bode well.
Everything turned out fine, partly because my Franciscan vow renewal reminded me that I wasn’t here to prove anything to anyone or myself, but to serve God and others. So I figured God would get me through the tests at least at the passing rate. I think I passed. More important for me, I didn’t stress out about how I did.
After the New Testament midterm, I hopped on the bus to get to German class for the test, planning some last-minute review of grammar, but my New Testament TA got on the bus with me and started chatting about his Biblical studies research (book of Revelation). This turned out to be more interesting than German grammar! I think I bombed the “ihnen, ihren, ihnem” portion of the test. But honestly, I don’t think the Germans even know which one to use….
And then, on Saturday, a great blessing: some of us Berkeley Divinity School students volunteered at an Episcopal church’s food bank, and they put me at the registration desk because I admitted to knowing a little Spanish. Here I am studying German to read Barth and Rahner and Schleiermacher in German, and yet all that Spanish I studied on my own finally came in handy: Su nombre? Quantas personas in su familia? Adonde viva? I played Peekaboo with preschoolers, too–apparently an international game.
I’m sure it was broken Spanish, but it got the job done for the clients in search of food, and for me, it was the perfect ending to an exhausting week of mental work and an affirmation of why we do the exhausting work of learning languages and the Bible: to put it to use in the world. I remembered during the morning that St. Francis was a linguist, preferring his mother tongue of Italian but competent in French, Spanish, and a little German himself. And he used it to spread the Word throughout Europe, mainly through his radical love of all people. (Can you tell I’m doing my Church History paper on the spread of the Franciscan Order? I figured, what the heck! Start with what you know.)
“Todo lo que hicieron por uno de mis hermanos, aun por el más pequeño, lo hicieron por mí.” Matteo 25:40
“Whatsoever you did for my brothers, even for the least of these, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40.