The Bible is replete with examples of waiting: Abraham and Sarah waiting for that long line of descendants promised by God; Jacob working 7 years for one wife and then 7 years more for the one he really wanted; Joseph waiting to be reunited with his father and brothers; Hannah waiting for a child; and of course, Jesus’ long, anxious wait in the Garden of Gethsemane. Why am I meditating on waiting? Because I am waiting to hear about several things and really, really hate to wait. When they were handing out Patience, I was standing at the very back of the line, jumping up and down and saying, “What’s taking so long up there?”
I’m waiting to hear, first of all, whether I have been accepted as one of ten Yale Divinity School students to travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for one week next October as the guests of the king of Saudi Arabia. The royal family is aware of Dr. Lamin Sanneh’s course on Christian/Muslim dialogue and his work on the Pontifical Commission for Muslim Relations, and they are inviting us to Saudi Arabia on a cultural exchange, I believe. I am hoping that we will be able to see some of the most sacred places in Mecca. The funny thing is that I have imagined myself in Saudi Arabia (as a visitor) ever since I felt called to be an Episcopal priest.
Many seminarians do field education, or an internship, their middler year as part of their preparation for professional ministry. In Episcopalians’ case, at least, this is an important part of the discernment and preparation process for ordination. I interviewed at four churches–from Hartford, the capital of Connecticut in the north, to a church in New York City in the south. I loved all four interviews and would have been happy anywhere, but I especially want to work at one of my top two choices due to their locations, outreach to the community, and diversity of congregations. I have ranked my choices, and the priests who interviewed seminarians have ranked their choices, and now our Office of Supervised Ministries will try to find a first choice-first choice match. That’s why I’m waiting.
The type of work I would do depends greatly on the parish that I volunteer for, since the churches’ missions are very different and offer different ministries, services, and programs for the community. What’s cool to me is that each congregation has its own gifts and challenges–but mostly gifts. (One thing common to all the churches I considered is that they have been affected by unemployment in the congregation and in the surrounding community.)
At least I will know by March 15 whether I was matched with a church.
I’m also waiting to hear about financial aid and scholarships for next year. I have applied for several external scholarships because I won’t be able to work as many hours next year due to my church internship, but loans probably won’t be able to make up for the lost earnings. So here’s hoping! I’d like to keep studying fulltime.
Waiting for paper topics? Don’t laugh! I don’t mean that my professors haven’t given us paper topics yet. I mean that in most seminars at the Divinity School, the student is responsible for choosing a topic. I prefer choosing my own topic, but the problem is sometimes that I don’t know enough yet about the course’s subject to choose a topic, or I have so many interests that I am not sure what to pick. The latter case is not so problematic because one topic usually surfaces as more interesting, or easier to discuss in a 20-page paper. But in some cases, I really need to read most of the course readings before I can say what I want to pursue. And that seems to be leaving things to a very late date–kind of like Sarah’s pregnancy.
I just have to hold on with faith and believe that I am learning something and will eventually have something to write about before the paper is due. Until then, I wait… and read… Volume 3 of Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology, Walter Brueggemann’s very long Theology of the Old Testament, Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae, Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love, and some primary sources for my research on the religious voices in the anti-war protests of the 60s and 70s.
So I guess I’ll go back to waiting now….