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Writers

Chris Abel
Joshua Davinsizer
Cara Rockhill
Deborah Sokolove
Lovett Weems Jr.

 

Reflections on Being a First Year Seminarian

Oct 14

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Monday, October 14, 2013 12:56 PM  RssIcon

By Cara Rockhill

            As I sit in the same chair I sat in this time a year ago pondering what seminary would be like, I find I’m in exactly the place I thought I would be, but the path I took to get here was totally unexpected.

            Let me explain what I mean by that.

            A year ago I expected to have done well in my first year, and excited for the second year to begin. I expected to enjoy my classes and learn a lot. But if you had told me a year ago that I would have fallen head-over-heels-in-love with the Hebrew Scripture, I would have looked at you in the same sideways way my dogs looks at me when he thinks I’ve lost my mind.

            A year ago I expected to be on the verge of making the decision of whether to pursue ordination. But if you had attempted to tell me how difficult and overwhelming the decision-making process would be, I would have given you the same dog-like look.

            When I entered law school (yes, I’m a lawyer – no, law and theology aren’t as different as you think), we were warned that the first year of law school would at some point, break us.  And it did (my breakdown resulted in my sobbing under a table in the campus coffee shop, but I recovered after an afternoon spent watching Talladega Nights). Seminary (at least here at Wesley) leads to a breakdown in a very different way. If you allow the process to work, everything you know, or think you know, about the Bible, theology, and in many ways yourself, is challenged. The result is a stretching and even redefinition of how you think and approach your faith, your God, and yourself.

            For me, challenging the Bible, my faith and theology has been exciting and at times difficult, but not overwhelming. I love the academic aspects of being a seminarian. The struggle for me has been in the redefinition of myself, and my possible future in the Episcopal priesthood.

            For many of my classmates, they’ve accepted their calls to ministry long ago, and are struggling with the academic rigors of graduate school. Others find their faith shaken, and instead struggle to redefine, or even rediscover, their faith.

            My seminary breakdown came as a direct result of the self redefinition struggle. Only my love of the education allowed me to push through instead of giving into the idea of quitting and going back to being a lawyer. Slowly, I’m adjusting to the knowledge that there is no going back to being a lawyer; comforted with the certainly that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be: sitting in my chair; reflecting back on my first year; and pondering what the second will hold.

            I say this honestly, even though it will sound like pro-Wesley propaganda: I love seminary. There are things I would change about Wesley, but I don’t regret my decision to come. While I ended my first year in exactly where I thought I would, the journey I took to get here was unexpected. But that’s part of the beauty of God: getting you exactly where you need to be; equipping you with the tools you need for the journey; all while leading you on a path you never expected.

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