The first semester is nearly over.
Six months (ish) have passed.
In some ways I can’t remember ever having a life outside of seminary and in some ways I still feel incredibly new. Green, innocent, naïve and out of my depth.
Through my years of travelling I came to realise that six months is as long as it takes for a person to acclimatise. You haven’t really experienced the heart of a place or the culture of the people before six months, of course that’s a generalisation, but I always used that as a benchmark for ‘settledness’. If I was still desperately unhappy after six months I had permission (from myself) to move on. Six months was enough time to work out whether or not I was in the right place.
So I here I stand at the six month mark and I ask myself the question, are you happy, are you settled, are you in the right place?
I am happy. I have definitely had moments of great joy and deep sadness. I feel settled and more importantly, I am at peace.
I have mentally packed my bags a number of times since being here, (this very morning in fact) but as an enneagram seven, I will always do that. My mother will attest, I spent a lot of time running away from home when I was unhappy/misunderstood/being disciplined. Past relationships will attest to the same, if I didn’t leave on a regular basis it wasn’t much of a relationship.
I have packed my bags a few times, but on the whole, the last six months have been amongst the most rewarding, frustrating and transforming experiences of my life so far. There has been pain, grief. Unbelievable grief. There have been moments of abject joy and hysterical laughter. Quite a lot of hysterical laughter actually. There has been learning.
In the midst of confusion and fear and awkwardness, I have never really felt alone. I have made special friendships in a short space of time. I have gotten to know a God who is so much bigger than I could ever had imagined and I imagined a BIG God. I have seen that God woven in and around the fabric of our lives in such delicately subtle ways that I have doubted God’s presence altogether and yet it’s in the looking back, it’s always in the looking back, that I see the pattern, I see the purpose and I know that I have been guided and affirmed in ways that are just inexplicable.
I came here to learn theology, to learn how to be a minister. So far I have learnt how to be Philippa with a little bit of theology and ministerial training thrown in – there are 2.5 years to go, plenty of time for more learning.
I have been reminded that I am passionately loving, painfully sensitive. I am still learning to slow down (but I am getting better at that). I am learning not to be so proud (this one hurts). I am rediscovering humility in some of the most graceful situations (my church placement being instrumental in this one). I am learning to be more disciplined (this is likely to be a lifelong battle). I am learning that tolerance is not the same as acceptance and unconditional love and that the path of least resistance is not always the easiest path. I have learnt – and am still learning – that God calls some funny people, some broken people, some inappropriate people, some beautiful people. God calls the diverse to minister to the diverse and it is deeply humbling and encouraging to know that I am as broken, as funny, as beautiful and as inappropriate as the best of them.
And so, we enter the last week of semester one.
I did it.
I loved it. (Most of the time).
I didn’t pack my bags.
I didn’t run away.
There can only be one reason for that.
I am where I am supposed to be.
By the grace of God, I am in the right place …