The Slurping of Coffee. The Turning of Pages.

It’s a cool November Saturday on campus. The sun is shining and there are children playing between Red Bud and Osage Orange (two of the new apartment buildings). Construction on all four apartments is finally complete and a sense of gratitude is in the air.

We are well into the second quarter of the year now. Between Church History I, New Testament II, Old Testament I, and an elective of our choosing, the work load is mounting for our class. In the library and the coffee shop, dorm rooms and apartments, one can hear the slurping of coffee and the turning of pages.

I have not written in a while. The pace of chapel, class, lunch, work study, homework, cooking, family time, sleep, wake up, repeat is all consuming. Even more than the overwhelming work load, though, I wanted to be able to say, “It was a rough start, but things are going great now!” But it seems like just as one stressor eases, another takes it’s place. Life is messy. Transition is hard. And living comfortably in my new reality cannot be forced.

I still have some grieving to do. I miss living near friends who know and love me deeply. I miss having work I am really good at. I miss seeing the children of St. Mary’s grow. I miss financial security. I miss knowing each holiday will be spent with the people I’ve celebrated with for twenty-seven years.

I keep thinking if I didn’t have some much school work I would make time to cry for those losses. I keep missing the job where taking time to care for my soul was expected because you cannot pour into your ministry from an empty cup. But perhaps you cannot pour into your own learning from an empty cup either. Perhaps it is not structures around us that prevent us from caring for our souls, but our own priorities. Perhaps God is calling me to a transformative seminary experience that is about more than completing the required reading. I can say for sure that at the end of these three years I would rather be able to say that I loved myself and those around me well than that I completed all the reading.

This balance is not easy. Holding the tension between soul tending and “productivity” is a life long practice. When I stop to grieve I know that all over the campus of Virginia Theological Seminary pages keep turning and coffee keeps dripping. But today I am steeping a cup of tea.

Photo Credit: Richard Allred

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