Thank you, Jenn

Graduation. It’s on friday. And I don’t wanna!

Today was the last academic outpost of my seminary career.  I’ve turned in all my papers, written my thesis, and today, i took my last final.  Damn it. I’ve been bitchy all day since… but probably the scant two hours of sleep i got last night didn’t help, either.

So I turned to the music of my fellow seminarian Jenn Lindsay, a folk musician with wry, honest lyrics.  Her song ‘no foul, no harm’ (what she called her ‘systematic theology in seven verses’) reminded me why I’m so sad:  I am terrified of leaving the first community that has encouraged me to be a creative theologian, and also a creative person in general.  New York is where I’ve overcome a fear of so many ‘scary’ foods, understood pieces of art without self-consciousness, grown into my talents and my brain, and listened to the voices of people from places in life I’d never previously imagined.  All of these experiences, they have shaped not only me, but also the way that I seek out and interact with the divine — the way that I think about individuality, language, my body, history — the epistemology of it all.

Jenn’s song isn’t about what I’m going through right now.  But it is about searching for something I’ve searched for.  And ultimately, I think it is that thirst for searching that I fear losing.

Listen for my favorite lyrics (they come later in the song):

I don’t like how you are different from Brooklyn to midtown
I don’t like it when people capitalize your male pronoun
I don’t like televangelists that yell from the screen
I don’t like folks with dogs or kids who use you to be mean

But then again I don’t like it when people say you’re dead
The Dawkins/Hitchens/Dennet crowd and their whole line of dread
Cuz in quiet moments, darker days, and confusion
I know there’s something bigger than me and it’s no delusion

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Commissioning my self

This week, my heart is in a state of delicate preparation: I will graduate from seminary. The past three years at Union have been those of a constant prodding: a loosening of scripture from bonds of intolerance and injustice, a massaging of my heart to understand (if not to forgive), and an unfolding of my mind to questions, to uncertainty, and to flexibility.

Some years ago, before coming to Union, I went to the Boundary Waters (on the Minnesota-Canada border) with a group of friends from bible camp. A seemingly endless chain of cold, clear lakes linking upon lakes, the Boundary Waters provides peaceful respite from motor-boats, pontoons, and other forms of civilization. There, one’s heart can wander amongst the stars even as the body submerges the mind, relentlessly sweeping away useless thoughts as a paddle cuts through water.

Lake Saganaga, Boundary Waters

Lake Saganaga, Boundary Waters

This trip, however, my heart could not wander freely with the stars. Instead, it is the moment in my particular history to which I pinpoint the death of my ‘faith’, at least as it existed at that time. Read the rest of this entry »