In my last post, I mentioned that I would be spending part of the week in Texas. That trip ended up being a really good one and I had a great experience seeing old friends and making new ones and just generally enjoying my time there. I was really glad to get back to school, though, to the wonderful community I've made here. I've never lived in such a supportive, affirming community before and it really feels quite wonderful. I feel like this is a place where I can truly be myself and have that self affirmed and supported by the community. That's very hard to find and something I have searched for for a long time. I feel so blessed in so many ways to be here.
As to my own betterment, that's been steadily improving. I have started working out in the gym two to three days a week. I'm even waking up early to go to the gym which is so uncharacteristic of me in so many ways. I've been mainly focusing on improving my muscle capacity and such and while I absolutely hate working out and especially despise doing anything involving weights, I've found it to be a tolerable experience so far. A chance for me to just prepare myself both physically and mentally for the day ahead. It's become an important part of my day and I'm actually to the point where I look forward to doing it which is an even bigger shocker. A few weeks ago, I voluntarily agreed to go on a hike with one of my classmates. That's something that you would have never seen me doing just a few months ago. Yet, somehow, in this environment, it just felt like a good idea and something I wanted to do. So, I woke up early on a Saturday morning and hiked up a mountain of my own free will. The view was beautiful and it was a really great bonding activity so I am glad I did it. I am finally becoming the person I have always wanted to be. The kind of person who cooks and bakes and eats healthy and exercises and voluntarily goes hiking. That is the kind of person that I have wanted to become and living out here has allowed me plenty of opportunities to do it. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoy my random lazy days on the couch watching a movie or my late nights at the bar but I am also realizing the joy and subtle beauty that can be found in the outdoors. It's something I hadn't really picked up on until moving out here.
As far as my spiritual life is concerned, that's been an interesting journey as well. I haven't yet found a church yet that I want to start attending every week but instead have been church shopping and have gone to a different church every Sunday I've been here. I've met some incredibly warm and generous people at all the churches I've visited. I've also been regularly attending the chapel services at school almost every day and they have been very life-giving and nourishing in completely different ways. Seminary can, in many ways, actually be a crisis of faith time and can really shake your beliefs. While I haven't struggled with that as much as some of my classmates, there are still some times when I have questioned why I am here and what I am learning and how can I possibly apply it to my future path. In those moments, I find that chapel sustains me and gives me the nourishment that I need to go on and continue. My spiritual life has so far been enriched and nourished by my time at seminary. I'm enjoying my church shopping and so far don't really feel a need to find that one church that I want to attend for the rest of my time here. For right now, I'm perfectly content with hopping around every Sunday and getting my fulfillment from chapel each day. That's enough for me right now.
I'm still doing well academically even though the work load seems to have really ramped up the last few weeks. I've found myself being able to keep up and even stay afloat in spite of everything. My favorite thing about seminary is that it is absolutely perfect for my Type A side!! While others feel overwhelmed and stressed with all the work, I find myself thriving with having so much to do. My YAV year was great but my Type A personality really struggled with it. Now, however, my Type A-ness is allowed to shine and it is a very happy person right now!! Yes, I have lots to do and yes sometimes it can feel like a lot but that is when I am at my best. Not letting the stress of school get to me. I know I can do this and I want to do this. I had my ministerial purpose and such re-confirmed for me when I went home last month as I met some people who thought that the things I want to accomplish with my ministry were great and much needed. I realize I'm being cryptic and vague and that's because I want to wait to clarify it before I commit to writing it on paper, so to speak. Eventually, there will be a blog post dedicated to that very topic but we are not there yet so just hold on!!
Well, I think it is time to close this off. I've been told that my posts are too long and I guess that is true. Something I might need to think about for the future. Anyway, I hope everyone reading this has a lovely Thanksgiving. I will be driving out to Sacramento to spend the day with my cousins and my aunt and uncle. It's the extended family that I haven't seen in over 10 years so I'm very excited about re-connecting with them and meeting the family members that have been born since the last time I saw them all. I think there will be about 8 of us there which might make it one of the bigger Thanksgivings I've been to. I've always loved Thanksgiving because of the simple fact that it is a chance to spend time with family or those you consider family. I sincerely hope that everyone reading this gets the chance to spend the holiday with the people they love, whether that be your biological family or those who have become like family to you. Remember, family is how you define it so please spend the day being with the people you love regardless of who that may be. There's something sacred and indeed special about the feast and the sitting at the table. Cherish it, nurture it and most of all, enjoy it. Play with your 8-year-old cousins. Watch some football with your brother. Have a genuine, grown-up conversation with your father. Help your mother in the kitchen. Whatever you do, though, remember above all to just enjoy yourself. It's increasingly rare to get to spend that time together with the people you love so whenever we do, we really should cherish it more. Forget for just one day about everything else you have going on in your life and just breathe. Relax. Don't stress. Remember the sacredness of the feast around the table and treasure it. Honor it, give it the attention it deserves. That's what I want to leave you with as we head into this holiday season.