Spring Semester Begins

February 19th

It’s been over 2 weeks but Spring semester has sprung! My break is over and I’ve got one semester under my belt. I’m thrilled with these classes I’ve got… only 2, but I’m working so that will probably be enough. How People Pray is on Mondays and that is proving interesting indeed. We have covered Judaism, Christian and Celtic already and I have found some wonderful prayers to read. Spirituality and Non-violent Transformation is on Tuesdays, centering on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez and Mahatma Gandhi…. Oh to read Gandhi and get credit for it! How lucky am I! We’ve started reading The Essential Gandhi already and the book list also includes The Moral Vision of Cesar Chavez, Dorothy Day’s Loaves and Fishes, Thoreau on Civil Disobedience, W.E.B. DuBois The Souls of Black Folk…. Plus others, but how cool of a reading list is that! I’ve only got 8 books plus readings to read this semester so that feels pretty light. Some are small, that’s a good thing, some are long; James Washington’s A Testament of Hope –all of King’s speeches and writings is 700 pages long. I enjoy reading though so this is not a punishment by any means.
It’s been inspiring to hear the introductions of the students in my classes, where they’ve come from, what they’ve done, why they’re here. Ministers seem to come from every walk of life, literally, so the diversity that is brought to our classes is positively delicious. How can I NOT learn? Already many classmates have opened their hearts to allow us to see the pain and grief that they’ve experienced which brings new dimension and meaning to their personalities and souls. In my prayer class I’ve discovered forms of prayer that I didn’t realize were prayer. I have kept a gratitude journal every night for the past 8 years and discovered that was a form of prayer. My running jaunts, especially when I was running long miles, felt like meditation and I’ve realized that is a form of prayer. Many of us I think pray and don’t realize we’re praying. I wasn’t a fan of prayer in the past, believing in the medieval definitions of many organized religions. But I do believe there is a God, or spirit, or universal energy, call it what you will, that exists and there has been many a time when I have pleaded, begged, cajoled and bargained with this spirit guidance, promised to never do it again if only they …… you know the rest. So to delve into the analysis and breakdown of prayer is fascinating. Every religion or non-religion has a form and to discover how they do it actually helps me to define how I do it. We will be constructing prayers, for as I’ve been informed, I will be asked to pray on the fly… I may very well be somewhere where someone wants or needs a prayer and I will need to create one. I’ve never thought of that before. Sometimes I think to myself, WHAT have I gotten myself into? When I think of ministering I think of performing weddings, pushing back to the corner of my mind the fact that I will also perform funerals. Preaching at a pulpit seems easy, but what about when I’m in a hospital – what do I say to the patient or the family to comfort them? Or I’m involved in social action or a rally, what do I say to the masses? This is where fear could tangle my legs and pull me down if I don’t lasso it first myself. And I know I have years yet of learning to go before I will truly be ready. So I study and I do my “own” praying and hopefully step by step, I’ll learn what I need to learn and do what I need to do. It can be quite intimidating to see the role models of Gandhi, Chavez, or King and think that is my pinnacle… that is where I need to reach. That may never happen, but at least that’s my goal!

So Spring has sprung – theoretically – (it’s pouring down deluges at the moment, so it doesn’t feel very Spring-like) and I’m off and running. I feel like this semester will be easier than the first, as I’ve gotten my sea legs and feel a tiny bit more seasoned. I even attended a Student Body meeting this week and volunteered for a committee – egad! I need to have student activities though don’t I? If I’m to get some fellowships and grants, I need to check as many boxes as I can. Ugh… it feels like High School and I’m on Student Council, in the National Honor Society and in the pep club, all over again! 🙂

I hope you’re Spring is off to a good start even though technically it’s not Spring yet. I just got an early start myself.

From my little piece of Mayberry,
Jo