And just like that, I'm done with seminary. How weird. Actually, I've been done for a week now, since senior grades had to be turned in last week, but today was my last class. I'll be honest - it feels weird. Like, wait, what just happened? The last four years have absolutely flown by - where did they go? Lost in a whirlwind of classes and friends and CPE and internship and crazy people and awesome professors and "vocational discernment" and work and books and tragedy and comedy and just ... incredibleness. It's just...gone.
I'm not sad, per se. Just...sentimental. The saying-goodbye piece is different here than in high school and college. Of course, there's the last day of classes and baccalaureate and graduation and and and. And maybe I'll be sad then. But my friends are all leaving at different times and different paces. You bond differently in seminary, or at least, I did, than in high school or college. There are a couple college friends that are people I care about very much still, but very few of them are people that weren't in "my class". Those few who weren't are people who, for whatever reason, I just stayed - or became? - close to. But so much of high school and college revolves around "your class". Basically everyone is in and out in 4 years, and while we all go off to different colleges or jobs or grad schools, being that graduating class is the main thing.
Seminary has been much different. I've bonded with people over faith, over key experiences, over classes and professors and - frankly - the important things. The things that have made me friends with people from high school and college who were in "not my class". There are people who have graduated before me - and who will graduate after me - who are my true "classmates", my true friends, the ones who I know will be there with me and for me when the road ahead is tough. We all come from different places, and we are going different places. Some of us have been here 4 years, some 2, some 10. But love - the love of Christ - has brought us and bound us together. And I am so, so grateful.
I'm not much of a name-dropper, but I'm doing it here. Maybe because I need to tell this to myself, maybe because I want to let the people I love know that I love them, maybe because I need to give thanks to God for all that he's given me.
I am grateful for Katie - who I think was possibly my first "seminary friend" - one of the first, anyway. And she is also, I think, my "last seminary friend." I am grateful for her companionship, her laughs, her hugs, and her always understanding what I'm trying to say. I'm grateful that she has been attached to my hip, and that she drinks wine with me, and tries to convince me that I need to not tolerate people's crap.
I am grateful for Liz - she who understands the strangeness of home. I'm grateful that she never judges, never condemns - I'm grateful that she lifts me up and dusts me off when I need it. I'm grateful that she is such a good listener, and that she loves Jesus and is always as excited to see me as I am to see her.
I am grateful for Rachel - I'm grateful that she pushes to places that I need to go, and I'm grateful that she tells me who I belong to and how much I am worth. I am grateful to her for showing me what freedom in Christ looks like.
I am grateful for Brian - I am grateful that he has taught me to stand my ground, and to seek the Truth at all times. I am grateful for his ministry, and the call on his life, and his ability to preach the Gospel - even to me.
I am grateful for Andrea - I am grateful that she is kind and sweet and loving and pastoral. I am grateful that she so often confirms my suspicions about what ministry looks like, and I am grateful that she teaches me so much.
I am grateful for Angela - I am grateful for her quirky, honest takes on life, love, and ministry. I am grateful that she makes me reevaluate my presuppositions, and I am grateful that she makes me laugh and loves so deeply.
I am grateful for Susan - I am grateful she picked me, Angela, Andrea, and Brian. I pray that, in the end, it may turn out to have been as life-giving of a choice for her as it was for all of us.
I am grateful for Will - I am grateful to him for reminding me that good guys do still exist, and that they love Jesus, and that said love bleeds out into the rest of their lives. I'm grateful that he has been such a fantastic co-HR, that he humors me and my quirks, and pushes me when I need to be pushed.
I am grateful for Tim - I am grateful to him for teaching me about boundaries, and how hard they are to draw, and how necessary.
I am grateful to Melinda - I am grateful for her honesty. I am grateful for her laughter, and I am grateful to her for reminding me - the former MA - that MAs still exist.
I am grateful to Susan - I am grateful to her for her faith and for her witness. I am grateful for her prayers and for her example. I am grateful for her help with my Prophets paper.
I am grateful to Dr. Jacobson - I am grateful to him for slowly, by example, teaching me what it means to live the life I've been given.
I am grateful to Dr. Koester - I am grateful to him for providing the inspiration for so many sermons I will preach. I am grateful to him for asking the important questions.
I am grateful to Dr. (?) Fever - I am grateful to him for showing me what responsible, faithful Biblical scholarship looks like. I am grateful that he provided a setting where I could learn to get along with St. Paul.
I am grateful to Dr. Malcolm - I am grateful that she taught me what it means to be free. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit works so powerfully through her words.
I am grateful to Dr. Throntveit - I am grateful that he understands what it means to teach the Bible specifically to people who are becoming pastors. I am grateful for his faith, and for his desire to build up the faith of his students.
I am grateful to Bishop Foss - I am grateful that he is kind and caring and loves Jesus so much. I am grateful that he has accepted God's call to be exactly where he needs to be.
I am grateful to Mike - I am grateful that he pushed me towards this vocation, even when I didn't really want him to, and even when I thought he was wrong because of so many things I couldn't tell him.
I am grateful to my candidacy committee - I am grateful that even though they are crazy, they made me fight for my voice, and fight for my call.
I am grateful to God - I am grateful that he has stuck by me, his unworthy servant, despite my repeated attempts to not listen, my repeated instances of totally misinterpreting him, and my general failure every day to live as though I actually believe in him. I am grateful that he still loves me.