Putting the Pieces Together

Two colorful greeting cards with abstract designs assembled from angular scraps of paper. One is a blue and green chalice with an orange and yellow flame. The other card is a rainbow.

It has been a full month since I updated here.  

The image above is of a couple of paper-collage greeting cards I made while I was away at school.  (One of the hazards of being “out” as an artist is that I can’t easily get away with sending generic cards from the drugstore.)  

Between the creative craft projects and the intentional practice at healthy human interactions, I sometimes think seminary is a lot like kindergarten – although I do appreciate that I get to use the sharp scissors these days, and as far as I can tell nobody ate my glue.

This has probably been my last long trip to Chicago. I am not done yet – I will not graduate for at least two more years. But I have completed the majority of my academic classes and the rest of my trips will be much shorter.

I feel like I have only just started to learn how to do this thing, this packing my life into hardside suitcases and schlepping it halfway across the continent for full immersion into the thick intensity of formational community, only to have that suddenly now be a thing that is over and I must move on to the next thing I don’t quite know how to do.

I am very much in discernment and contemplation right now, or I need to be – as much as I can, tucked into the crevices between all the things I postponed so that I could spend a month away from home. The suitcases are still in the living room and I just did the laundry yesterday. Reentry is still hard after all this time. And the spring term officially started two days ago so there has been no real opportunity for rest and closure.

But all that is to say that while I have been not-writing on the blog, I have been no less occupied with other things, tumbling around some stories that are not mine to tell, and other stories that are mine but not yet ready for telling. Hard things, heart things. The places where our human masks become thin and – if we look closely – the glow of the holy shines through.

I have seen holy things, these last few weeks.

And I have also been worn thin in places, and generally feel empty and cross and stretched and in need of renewal, and I have a couple of weeks to get some of that figured out before I step into the next piece: spring extended CPE placement. About which I have no small anxiety, given the experience I had during my unsuccessful attempt two summers ago.

Have I grown? Maybe. I hope so. I would like to make better mistakes this time. I fear that I haven’t grown enough yet, maybe, or that this new growth is still too fragile. CPE is supposed to be challenging, but it isn’t supposed to be traumatic and destructive. I am hoping that this time around the experience will prove to be more of a greenhouse than a wood chipper.

Between that and the history class I’m taking this term, I think the first half of 2016 is going to be really light on blogging. I miss doing this regularly, and I need to figure out how to integrate it into my work in the long term.  But that will not happen tonight.

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