Life Update: Advent Brings…Final Exams?

Advent is here, and so are final exams. Reflecting briefly on my first semester of seminary.

Hello, and happy first day of Advent!

I am having a hard time getting my head around the fact that it is December 1st. That means I’ve lived in New Haven for nearly 4 1/2 months. It also means that the first semester of seminary is almost over.

People check in occasionally wanting to know what I’m learning and how I’m growing in this program. To be honest, I think the growth is happening at the roots – there’s not much external evidence that something is happening in here except for maybe some mental chaos masking as fatigue.

Some of that has to do with the absolute overwhelm of the schedule itself. I haven’t managed to regulate my schedule in a way that allows for much “fun,” other than the fun I have sitting in the halls chatting with my school friends, which should not be discounted. I am so grateful to have arrived at the it’s-not-awkward-to-hug stage of friendship with so many in my community.

But there’s a lot stewing in my brain and in my heart around the things I’m learning and experiencing.

My relationship to div school is, necessarily I think, complicated. There’s the insecurity of making friends without stepping on anyone’s toes, and learning how to navigate large and small group settings. There’s the annoyance I still feel about a midterm grade that was lower than expected, based on a misreading of the test expectations rather than a failure to learn.

There’s the trepidation over final papers and exam grades, and what I’ll have to admit about myself if I don’t do as well as I thought I could. There’s also the feeling that some of my classes are actually not as stimulating as I had hoped, and that some of my communities are not as welcoming as I had hoped.

There’s a lot.

There’s also a lot of intellectual and spiritual stimulation, so much brilliant, vulnerable engagement with the gritty stuff of life. So many people to look up to and learn from. A lot of talent and a lot of kindness. I have to remind myself in moments of awe that the “real world” doesn’t often resemble this level of attention and care, and that we are all, in this place, being trained to build communities that look a little bit more like what div school looks like on its best day.

I have done so much mandatory self-reflection this semester that it’s become kind of hard to write my story in a way that doesn’t feel rehearsed. But I know that I will need to spend some time over Winter Break letting my story pour out, letting myself thoughtfully articulate what I’m learning, or it will become cramped and stifled inside me and hurt my spirit.

I’m sharing this today because I’m coming back from a week off for Thanksgiving, and feeling disoriented and uncertain about my capabilities. Maybe if I can ground myself here, that will be enough.

In other news

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