Summer Academy, Day 1

There's SO MUCH to process after my first day of Lancaster Theological Seminary's summer academy. It's my second session there-- I went the summer of '07, and the contrasts between then and now are striking. Not in the program, but in me.

Because there's so very much to process, and because in the past that's gotten in the way of my sharing anything at all, we're going with bullet points this week. (I spent a week in Ohio in August, and another in April, and both of them were profound times of formation. I still want to write about them.)

Here we go:
  • I'm taking a workshop on Spiritual Autobiography, and a class on Living with Loss/Grieving.
  • There are TWO people that I know and enjoy in my classes! It's a small world of ministry in Lancaster County, and I'm so happy to run into these two.
  • Intensive writing and paying attention to loss is going to make for an emotional week, I think. I've packed a handkerchief in my bag.
  • There is some serious grace being doled out to me. One of the two people I've run into is a warm, kind pastor of a UCC church that I worshiped with briefly after resigning the process. There's no other way to say it: I've been scared of ordained ministers since I resigned. In light of that, his gentleness and encouragement have been a real blessing. Especially since I didn't join his congregation.
  • I really love being in class, talking about the things that matter most to me. The grief class is a great blend of cerebral and personal.
  • I think I'm an anomaly: apparently, most people feel more comfortable writing in plain, cheap notebooks. I love pretty journals, lovely pens. I'm not intimidated by them, I find them inviting. I like nice tools--even for the messy stuff.
  • I may be more comfortable writing than most.
  • Our Loss/Grief prof: "Certain events in our lives have not been dignified with recognition." Well, how powerful is that?! I thought of some right away, truths that we didn't want to dignify, but they were still important. This got me thinking about liturgy, which I've always loved. I've been a bit rigid about liturgy (in fairness, some of this is because I think it's so important), and when I thought about it as commemoration of events, I could see the possibility of more flexibility. I remember learning that a Church of the Brethren pastor and spiritual director held a service of blessing and release to a directee who'd been called to Episcopal priesthood (she'd worshipped in both denominations). Wouldn't it be great to honor those who discern calls out of things?
  • "What we grieve tells us what we love." Well, absolutely. But think about it. Because there are a lot of layers in that one.
  • Losses and gains are interrelated, but only the griever has a right to name any gifts that might come through grief.
That's it for now, friends, but that's a lot!


  1. Sounds wonderful. Really wonderful.

    I can't remember if I wrote in my blog about creating liturgy for cremations preceding funerals/memorial services, or if I just talked about it in a class I taught. But there is definitely an experience to which we in the US fail to extend the dignity of recognition.

    Just happened to be on my mind when I was walking this am, and here you are studying and writing about it!

  2. Beautiful things. you are in my prayers.

  3. What we grieve tells us what we love--thank you. So apropos as we enter another level of grieving for the difference between the child we have and the child we wish we had. (Well, as I enter it and encourage his Dad to recognize the difference enough to enter the grieving!) Painful stuff today and prayers appreciated. Glad that the program is feeling so fruitful

  4. wow, I'm envying that Spiritual Autobiography Class of yours. Envying the chance to be in a class like that with you. Wouldn't it be fun to share our insights?

  5. Wow--to hear the call of the door that closes. Now that's a powerful image to me.

    I'm envious of your time in Lancaster--or perhaps I should say that your time in Lancaster points me to some yearnings of my own.

  6. Robin, I know you've mentioned briefly that we need a cremation ritual. Have you thought about what it would look like? (I have, BTW, thought about you countless times in class.)

    Prayers for you, Laura. Definitely there's grief for what we expected not being what we have.

    Diane, you could virtually join us! We're using Natalie Goldberg's "Old Friend From Far Away" for our writing exercises. You might like it.

    And Kristin, I hear you about yearnings. 2 days in, and I'm already feeling like a week of classes is nowhere near enough.

  7. Good question.

    I think that cremation forces us to confront the end of an embodied existence in a way that burial may not. I think that fire is a very different element than earth and its connotations are quite different. And when all is done, you have not a mound of earth but a container of ash -- no place to visit, but material to deal with, and that's something that people handle in a variety of ways.

    Just beginning thoughts.


"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins