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high tide

31 Jan

The sun is sinking in the sky as I watch the waves roll in.

la jolla cove

It is October. We’ve been Southerners-turned-Californians for a month. It is hot outside, hotter than I thought it would be. I am looking for a job.

I have been looking for a job every day. I sleep too late. I go to the public library. I dig through the bargain bins at the grocery store, see how much food I can buy with twenty-five dollars. I play fetch with the cat. I walk around the labyrinth of graduate student apartments until the midday heat is too much.

And I look for a job.

It’s been just a month, but I am already panicked. I keep ten browser tabs open. Temp agencies, Craigslist ads, calls for medical study volunteers, human resources from all the area colleges. Mint.com, which makes me more panicked with its angry red bars that mean there’s more money going out than coming in. I feel helpless. I have no idea how people stand unemployment for years.

Josh comes in the door as I am walking back and forth, bedroom to kitchen to living room to spare room. “I need to get a job,” I tell him. “I still don’t have a job.”

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voice {day 26}

26 Oct

He is the first person to tell me that God’s voice might sound like mine.

My voice is too soft, I say, or too shrill. Too high, young, female. Too hesitant. It does not speak with a dramatic flair. It does not pause at all the right moments.

It does not sound like the voice of a Real Theologian, erudite and blazered. The kind of voice that would say, “It reminds me of something Ludwig Wittgenstein or Karl Barth once said.” It does not sound like the voice of a Real Preacher.

It is my professor Chuck who finally told me that my voice, my voice could speak the words of God. That if my voice was silent, maybe there would be a void or a vacuum. Maybe if I did not speak, someone would not hear God’s words. There would be silence.

So I speak, hesitantly at first and then more confident. My voice sounds earnest and joking. It sounds honest and real. It sounds like a conversation over coffee sometimes, and it sounds like an old church preacher sometimes. I speak, and I believe him, finally.

Sometimes when I speak, it is God’s voice. 

{Thanks to Chuck, the finest preaching professor in all the land, for helping me see that sometimes God’s voice sounds like mine.}

I’m participating in Five Minute Friday over at Lisa-Jo Baker’s. This is how she describes it: “It started because I’d been thinking about writing and how often our perfectionism gets in the way of our words. And I figured, why not take 5 minutes and see what comes out: not a perfect post, not a profound post, just five minutes of focused writing.” Amen, sister. The theme this week is “Voice.”

This post is part of a series, 31 Days of Healing. Check out Day 1 or the complete list of posts. If you want to follow along, you can also subscribe by email or subscribe in a feed reader. Or “like” the blog on Facebook. (We’re all about options here.) And thanks for reading!

on (not) living the dream

10 May

The other day, the phone rang every thirty seconds with someone else’s phone calls. When it wasn’t ringing, I was opening, stamping, delivering someone’s mail.

Sometimes I would catch a glance of the mug that sports my seminary’s logo. Right by the telephone in the office where I work as a temp secretary and have for nearly a year.

It was one of those days where all I could think was this: This is not where I was supposed to be.I should be past this by now. One of those days where I talk to myself and ask, “Is this what you took out these student loans for? That you got that Duke education for? That you studied and wrote papers and learned Greek and Hebrew for? To answer somebody else’s calls?”

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putting on an identity

16 Jun

I wore a robe for the first time yesterday.

Not a bathrobe, obviously.  A clerical robe.  Not one of the nice white albs either but a Big, Imposing Black Robe.

I don’t come from a robe-wearing tradition and haven’t spent much time in places with ministers with vestments (or candles, or, really, much liturgy) until this year.   So when my supervisory minister told me that I’d be wearing one of hers for all the services this summer, I felt a little giddy, like a child playing dress-up, donning a fireman’s uniform or a nurse’s scrubs.  Like I was putting on a career.  Putting on an identity.

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life lately

18 Nov

I remember the first day I stepped on Duke’s campus as a “real student.”

I stared up at the chapel tower, trying to figure out how to gawk while still looking dignified.  It was one of those days where the sky is impossibly blue, and against the chapel, it looked like it belonged in a postcard.

I remember feeling this sense of excitement that I was finally here.  After years of running on the hamster wheel of the “work world,” I was at least taking some steps toward something.  And yet also the feeling that somehow I was an imposter, and someone was going to “find me out” and throw me off campus.

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not divine yet

18 Nov

It’s nearing the end of my first semester here at Duke Divinity.  Well, about a month left, but with all the work still to be done with such a short amount of time, with the leaves falling and the days getting shorter, it sure feels like I’m nearing the end, at least.

I’ve debated on whether to blog or not during my time here and decided that I will, if for no other reason than to keep faraway family and friends updated on my life and write a little something nonacademic.

Although my brain feels gone from a day of Greek participles, Aquinas, and outlining an exam question about the Council of Nicaea, I’ll leave you with a quote, one of my favorites during my time here.  It hangs over my computer desk, to keep me at least a little bit centered.

Teach me to seek thee, and reveal thyself to me, when I seek thee, for I cannot seek thee, except thou teach me, nor find thee, except thou reveal thyself. Let me seek thee in longing, let me long for thee in seeking; let me find thee in love, and love thee in finding. Lord, I acknowledge and I thank thee that thou hast created me in this thine image, in order that I may be mindful of thee, may conceive of thee, and love thee; but that image has been so consumed and wasted away by vices, and obscured by the smoke of wrong‑doing, that it cannot achieve that for which it was made, except thou renew it, and create it anew. I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate thy sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, ‑‑that unless I believed, I should not understand.

-St. Anselm of Canterbury, Proslogium

beginnings

26 Apr

Why write at all, especially about yourself, your life, and your thoughts?  Is it a terribly narcissistic thing to do?

The best answer I have comes from Frederick Buechner, the memoirist, Presbyterian minister, and wordsmith extraordinaire, in his lovely little book Now and Then:

When people have occasionally asked me what I was working on, I have found it impossible to tell them without an inward blush.  As if anybody cares or should care….

But I do it anyway.  I do it because it seems to me that no matter who you are, and no matter how eloquent or otherwise, if you tell your own story with sufficient candor and concreteness, it will be an interesting story and in some sense a universal story.  I do it also in the hope of encouraging others to do the same–at least to look back over their own lives, as I have looked back over mine, for certain themes and patterns and signals that are so easy to miss when you’re caught up in the process of living them.  If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that he speaks to us largely through what happens to us, so what I have done both in this book and in its predecessor is to listen back over what has happened to me–as I hope my readers may be moved to listen back over what has happened to them–for the sound, above all else, of his voice.