Its been twelve days since I left the seminary. All of my belongings loaded into the back of my truck one more time and 26 hours of driving ahead of me. When I left Oregon four years ago it was with despair nipping at my heels and chasing me across the plains. I didn’t understand why I needed to go or what God had in mind. The thought of someone like me being a pastor seemed too hard to accept but I took comfort in the thought that my church seemed to see potential in me, saw something more than I could at the time.
Now I am back in Oregon. Back at the scene of my divorce, of my most difficult transitions. Every street I walk has a story and being here pulls me back into old stories, old ways of being. Being here as someone other than who I was is a struggle. I don’t want to return to old anxious and fearful ways of being. I have learned and grown. I have changed during the four years at seminary. I have received blessings too numerous to count and some that I only recognize in hindsight.
Even as I settle in with my family in my newly rented home I miss the communities of the Twin Cities. I am deeply aware of how rich and loving those communities were. I am aware that I only made it through seminary because of their love and care, a love and care that I often as not resisted. Yet with gentle persistence I have been loved back to health.
Which brings me to the here and now. I have an Mdiv. I can think theologically and speak clearly. I have learned to advocate for myself and others.I have learned to bring my whole self to the work God gives me. But it is this love that has brought healing. It is this love, the long conversations over coffee, the hands on my shoulders blessing, the meals shared together, the opportunities to serve, the joy and laughter shared, the tears cried together, it is this that has transformed me, that has remade me.
I still don’t know what God has in mind. I would like to work as a barista, or a hospice caregiver during this time of transition. I would like to participate in the ministry of my church. I would like to take a moment between seminary and a clinical residency to simply breathe and be. This is all good, but the one thing I can’t do is to stop loving. I have been filled to overflowing with love and kindness, with blessing. I may have to temper my exuberance at times lest I scare people off, I do that sometimes, but this love bubbles through; it won’t be stopped.
I still get scared sometimes. The future seems too overwhelming and my student loans will come due soon. I worry about keeping a roof over my head and my children’s heads. I worry about having enough to eat and clothes to wear. I am in transition and everything seems unstable. And then I feel that love bubbling beneath the surface, the blessings of my communities, the care and love of friends. I see myself reflected in them and I believe that God has given me all that I need to complete this journey. Thank you,