Thursday, September 13, 2012

Letting go

I graduated from seminary in 1997. I have kept all my old class notes and handouts because I have referred to them from time to time.

Today I tossed them all.

There was a stack of old exams, papers and handouts over two feet tall. I kept two pieces of paper.

There were 8 ring binders, most of them 3". I emptied all but two - I kept Intro to Ministry and Advanced Studies in Ministry.

In the fall of my senior year, Michaelmas Term 1996, I was the exchange student to Westcott House, one of two Church of England training colleges in Cambridge, England. Westcott House was broad church and Anglo-Catholic. The other was Ridley Hall, known as low church and evangelical. (Westcott House anglo-catholic students, when we had Federation Eucharist, with all the denominational training colleges together, and the Ridley Hall clergy were the celebrants, would genuflect before the low church priest - or, I should say, before the bread being held out for consumption, before receiving the host, to get up their evangelical noses.)

I still had my notes from the lectures I sat - Pauline Epistles with Morna Hooker, Postmodernity with Graham Cray of Ridley Hall, Hesychasm, Church History, and others, which befuddled my Westcott House tutor. He expected me to just have fun for a term. Never occurred to him that academics was, and still is, my idea of fun. I also submitted three essays - evidently unusual for an exchange student. One, "For Moltmann, How Can God be Crucified?", was read in the university as well as The House and got me a "Distinction". It was also read at my seminary, Seabury-Western in Evanston, Illinois, and got me the Casserly Prize for Contemporary Theology - a nice $25.00 check!

Today I threw it all out, including the A4 folders in which I had kept all my Westcott House stuff. Gone to be recycled.

I also threw out pocket folders with materials from a multitude of continuing ed things and workshops. Outta here. I have a slight headache from all the dust and paper mites I've stirred up.

Writing this, I'm feeling a bit mournful, like I really have walked away from those wondrous seminary years and experiences. But they still live in my core. They are still a place inside me where I can go for rest and renewal.

And quite frankly, I've internalized all that stuff I learned, much of which is even now outdated but formed the core of what The Episcopal Church has become and does.

Now, all I have to do is bag it all up for putting out on the curb next Wednesday for the recycling truck. I pale at the thought - I shall need help, I think!


Jeffri Harre said...

Of all the things I've tossed over the years, I've only regretted getting rid of three: the cartoons I drew in Jr. High and High school, the textbook from my 20th Century U.S. History class freshman year of college, and...

I guess it's only two things.

Lois Keen said...


DeanB said...

Good for you! They still live in your core.