“Went to seminary” sounds so nonchalant, so casual and normal, as though I had said nothing more significant than “then I went to the store.” Let me rephrase.
Then I was uprooted from the comfort and safety of my quiet little life in conservative Greenville, South Carolina with its gentle, rolling Appalachian foothills and temperate climate and dragged across the country to entertainment-saturated, liberal southern California with its rough, jagged Rocky peaks and dry, dramatic desert climate.
During a prayer session once, a young man I had just met that evening gave me a prophetic word that he saw me as a beautiful flowering plant that had been uprooted from my pot. He said the pain I was feeling was from being in transition but that I could rest assured that God was holding onto me and that I would be planted again soon, outside in the garden.
At the time, I kinda thought he was crazy. I didn’t put much stock in prophetic words, especially from people I’d just met, and how did he know I was in pain, anyway? I hadn’t said anything about it.
But I went home and cried.
He was right. I had been uprooted, not only from the pot of my life in South Carolina but also from my black-and-white Presbyterian perspective on the world. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my pot was holding me back. I couldn’t keep growing in that environment anymore. I had outgrown the pot and needed more room for my roots to go down deeper and my leaves to spread out more fully.
Invited into the conversation
So I was in seminary, hovering between the security of my pot and the great unknown of the garden. My roots were dangling in the air, exposed for all to see and desperate for water. It was in that space, the space between the pot and the garden, that I was invited back into the conversation.
In seminary, I was surrounded by people of faith–both conservative and liberal–all wrestling with scripture, examining their roots, being exposed to new points of view, and rubbing against each other in friendly, earnest debate. We were all working out who we were and what we believed. We were all trying on new ideas and perspectives. We were all talking and listening and thinking and arguing. We were all part of the conversation.
I spent a lot of my time in seminary with other Presbyterians, only a lot of them weren’t black-and-white at all. And I spent a lot of time with people whose roots were in many other denominations and expressions of Christian faith. And they weren’t very black-and-white, either. The best conversations I had in seminary were with other students whose roots were dangling in space just like mine. We were all in transition.
We were all on our way out to the garden.
To be concluded tomorrow…