That time I finished a full week of graduate school
Folks. I did it.
I finished a full week (and a half) of graduate school. So far I have read 458 pages of materal, sat in on 7 different courses (“shopping period”), attended 15 lectures/seminars — including yesterday's all-day Saturday class. Oh, and performed in service at chapel.
But, who cares about proving I can do it? (Okay, I do, but that’s more self-motivation than self-inflation.)
You’re a good friend and you care about whether I’m making friends, whether I’m tending to my heart, whether I’ve found God’s private number. Right? No? You care about whether I can use said private line to get you direct access to the Divine? Sorry, no, haven’t found that yet. But I hear we’re working on it. (Try meditation or centering prayer.) Ah, but, yes, you over there in the back, you care!
What’s it been like, you ask?
Folks, I can’t believe this is real life. Pinch and tell me this has all been a crazy dream. Seriously. Everything about my life is different from where it was a few years ago — literally everything. Sexuality, spirituality, profession, location, hairstyle — regular style! — you name it. When I walked into St James’s I had no idea, “God would rearrange the furniture of my heart,” as Rev. Lucy Winkett put it. But hot damn she’s right.
So what’s life like here?
In a four-letter word: full. Just, full.
First, it’s literally quite full. Many of you know I spent a month at Zen Mountain Monastery before arriving here and I have to say that was the best decision I could have made for innumerable reasons, but, in this case, the monastic schedule and zazen. I’ve kept my schedule so I rise at 5am and either go to the New Haven Zen Center that is only 30 seconds up the street, or do meditation (or a version of centering prayer) here at home. Then I head to the divinity school for classes, the occasional chapel service, and many a conversation. Hell, I might even surprise myself and go for a four-mile run and stumbled into ladies of liberty. Or, make my way to Muslim Friday prayer. Stuffed in there are meetings and so far, quite a few free lunches and /or dinners. After that’s all done, I’ll read, read, read, and maybe join the Buddhists for an evening event or the Christians for service and dinner. Or host a shabbat dinner at my place. But my day really ends with my three beautiful, wonderful, glorious roommates, who make this home a gorgeous home filled with laughter, love, and light.
But, that’s just fullness in time and space.
Life here, my days here, these very moments here — they’re full. That kind of fullness that whispers in wonder at the miracle of just — being — here. Present in each moment. I’ve really never felt so alive to each moment as I have in the last few weeks specifically, last couple of months generally, and few years more broadly. Don’t let me kid you: I’m by no means walking around ‘awake’ all the time, or even woke. I still have much to learn. Which is why being here feels so full: every second is wondrous in its simple teaching, instructing, pointing towards the ineffable, the exceptional, the unacceptable, right here, right now.
From new friends who are waking me to injustice experienced daily, to ancient texts that are pulling my mind from its slumber, to the millions of everyday interactions that demand my attention — I feel myself humbled by these many teachers who show me each moment is full, if I let it be. The burning sting of my morning coffee on the patio. The old lady with dementia, just past Dixwell, recounting the sewage-traversing boy who descended under the manhole cover. The exalted ‘Amens’ of my colleagues in the middle of a sermon. The instigators who demand my values be lived out if they're to be called values at all.
Moments here pulsate with life in all its messiness.
Moments here luxuriate in the fading summer sun.
Moments here fill me with wonder.
If it's all a dream, don't pinch me, please.