Okay… I needed to squint a bit to find it. The tragic stuff feels like it’s demanding a whole lot of attention!
Today, though, I washed (most of) the paint off and put on actual shoes and went out into the big world.
In some ways, my destination was along the lines of a big church in downtown Atlanta.
In other ways, it was time travel.
The kind where you push the button for the way-back machine. And wind up – rather unexpectedly – in the place where the future is being born.
My calendar read CTS Alum Luncheon.
Translation… a whole bunch of “new” folks from the Seminary Bill and I call home serving lunch and offering those present a chance to invest in the future.
As so often happens, though, imagining the future involved a trip down memory lane.
Specifically to the late 1980’s in Columbia’s Village.
Translation – the part of campus with apartments, rather than dorm rooms, generally inhabited by families. Many of them families of International students.
I vividly remember the day, that first summer of Greek School, looking around my kitchen and realizing I was passing cookies out to my 7-year old and a handful of his new friends… in 5 different languages!
With a nod to L. Frank Baum, that was the moment I realized we were “not in Kansas anymore”! It was a good – and sometimes difficult – thing then, and it’s a huge part of who I have become.
And a very conscious filter through which I took in the rest of today’s event.
Dr. Victor Aloyo, the “new” president at Columbia, spoke of the challenges of doing new things in this world. And he looked intentionally (!) around the room and claimed his commitment to supporting the mental health and wellness of all the Columbia Community.
I’m fairly certain that many of Victor’s predecessors would have made that same statement, had they been living in the same context we are… and it was really good to hear it said out loud.
Then, some students spoke.
I laughed in recognition as one young woman told of realizing that life gets different when we live in a land of Yes… and!
What I think she meant by this was realizing that she was able to learn new things – perhaps from new people – without feeling the need to throw out the old things which are still working.
This reminded me of a phase my young teenager went through which Bill & I dubbed Yah-but! Now he’s the parent of two teenagers and knows more!
Then, another student spoke… of a round-about path through careers and nations. Of finding her way to Columbia with deep knowing that it was where she belonged, and a whole lot of questions about how to pull it all off with major funding and immigration issues.
There were parts of her story which felt very familiar to me. And now comes the plot twist…
It is highly likely that, sometime in 2024, she will become the first Jordanian Palestinian woman ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
So… what’s the punchline?
Walk the Way of Love.
ps… the photo at the top is from my recent trip to the Occitan region of France. We were in an ancient, tiny chapel near Alet-les-Bains when I noticed the note an unknown traveler had left in the rock wall. Reaching out matters. So does being there.
pps… may we all keep noticing and wondering and learning!
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