Never before have I been surrounded in faith the way I am here at seminary. 177 years of theology permeates the walls. I write papers to the chimes of Riverside church outside of my window. I awake early to go to the chapel for meditation class where I sit in contemplation under the cross. Students walk the halls, fill the common room, or gather for study groups in the “Pit” to discuss the intricacies of liberation theology or the finer points of Tillich’s immanent divine. At times my own faith seems small and weak in comparison to the wisdom of the professors here or the brilliance of my fellow seminarians. It is difficult to escape my own inadequacies and fears of failure.
Everyone here seems so sure of what they are and what they are meant to be. Seminary is like a dark forest of faith, with looming trees of knowledge pressed in close all around. At times it feels as if I came to seminary to find a path through this darkness which has already been discovered by those around me. Like the Psalmist, I must clear the debris of fear and self-doubt from within, in order to see the workings of the Lord throughout this place. To let the still small voice waft through these elderly hallways and through the stone walls. Every morning I awake listening for the voice of God – seeking clarity so that when the way is revealed to me I will be able to follow it with my whole soul.
One thing I can be assured of is that I am finally where I am supposed to be. As soon as my pastor brought up the idea of attending seminary, I was struck by my own lack of insight. The idea seemed so natural; the culmination of the questions that had plagued my life from as far back as I can recall. I stopped going to school when I was eleven in the presence of deep anxiety, poverty, and doubt. At that time I could not conceive of a future for myself, nor could I imagine a way out of the darkness that surrounded the men in my family. It never occurred to me that there was something which cared for me in the deepest sense. I can see the handiwork of the Lord in my very existence and in the privilege of devoting my life to the study of the way to the Kingdom.
I pray every morning that I will be worthy of this opportunity and this seminary; that the “words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” I find dignity in this submission.