If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that it’s been a thrilling week teaching in the Freshman Scholars Institute program at Princeton, talking with my new students (about Plato, Freire, Hitchcock, and Du Bois), and also hearing some of their stories and their passions. When I sat with them on Sunday evening during dinner, I noticed that while they were saddened by the violence in their country, they were not defeated by it–their hope for the future is inspiring.
I’d tell you how challenging I think it may be for me to keep a handle on my writing projects and professional goals with this busy summer semester course. A month ago at the Frederick Buechner Writer’s Workshop Institute at Princeton Theological Seminary, several workshop presenters talked about the efficacy of collaborative writing partnerships. In one pair, two academics set quarterly writing goals and checked in with each other on writing schedules once a week, also exchanging work, and talking about writing over a weekly call. I’m striving to set and keep writing goals myself and considering such a partnership as one possibility.
How do you keep your writing goals? What are your best tips? Would love to hear from you!
Finally, I’d talk to you about all the excitement and anticipation my family and I have about moving into a new house in the coming weeks. As you know, we’ve been living in other people’s apartments, and God’s been providing for us so effortlessly, but at this last stage, I feel the anxiety creeping over me. It’s been easier, I think, to be faithful with little, and I struggle with the grandeur and responsibility of moving into a bigger place. Also moving is just the worst, and the thought of that upheaval leaves me weak.
It’s been another full week: the United States celebrated the second term of its forty-forth president as Princeton Seminary ushered in its seventh president. In both personal and public places, and in the first month of a new year, we’re in the business of reflecting on where we’ve been and where we’re going.
This weekend, I was challenged by the words of Dr. King, as he embraced the present moment despite its imperfections, as his moment, to which he was called. On Tuesday, as I heard the new president preach at the seminary, I was moved by his charge to allow God’s dreams to interrupt our small goals and to use our limits as a way back to God. As he mentioned his thirty-one years in ministry, and as I looked around the congregation filled with pastors and hopefuls, I felt that call, as I’ve felt it many times over the year, to serve, to lead, and to minister.
But then I realized: talking to a Chinese friend that morning, and forming words in another language that might provide some comfort, some empathy, some peace–I felt myself called to that. Discussing anthropology and faith earlier this week with my faculty mentor at the seminary, I felt myself called to that. And worshipping God on Tuesday in community and feeling free and full, I felt called to that.
And I wondered, perhaps we are the ones who put the limits on our lives, who cling to small calls when God has wider, fuller dreams? I feel gratefulness choking me up when I realize that a life where every moment is spent in service and praise of God makes ministers of us all–no more, no less.
My expectations brim with faith these days, faith that our definitions of call are too narrow for God’s infinite wisdom and abundant vision, faith that my limits speak of possibility when they draw me nearer to God, and faith that the kingdom of God isn’t fleeting or futuristic or finite–it’s here and it’s in you and me and all around us!
May you go this weekend in the knowledge that you are imperfectly, humbly, yet emphatically called to this life.
It was a peculiar morning here in Princeton, punctuated by torrential downpours and now engulfed in a balmy, saturated wind that makes one question entirely any rhyme or reason to the seasons.
But the slightly ominous weather didn’t keep me from taking joy in my old haunts.
This is the first morning I’ve really stepped foot on the Princeton Seminary campus since we’ve returned from China, the first morning that I’ve stumbled upon professors’ familiar faces, students, and felt the enthusiasm regarding the course I’m to teaching in the spring on families and culture and ministry (something I probably would have told you about if we’d really been able to have coffee a few days ago like I’d suggested).
The professor who I gabbed with said the seminary culture makes her feel young, and I couldn’t agree more that the bustle and hustle of universities in the fall and the silver lining of stress and naivete and wide-eyedness is that when it really sticks (into your thirties in my case) it continues to awaken the mind, the senses, the spirit.
That’s what I’m feeling on this dreary morning: anticipation, not unlike the expectation, of which I wrote, and the thrill of being back in a couple places, the seminary and the university here, that do, finally, feel like home.