Monday, October 30, 2006

Preemptive Grieving

My good friend David writes:
I feel another kind of sick. It may be difficult to describe, understand, or respond to... but I have had this sinking feeling for the past semester or so. This feeling is attached to my relationship with my cohorts (students at the seminary) and especially within my entering class. Over the past year, as we have taken more electives and less of the core curriculum classes--we have seen less of each other. We seem to be a less cohesive group. We are following our individual calls more (as it should be) and preparing to leave the seminary for parts unknown. There is anxiety entering into this secluded seminary environment... who will find a call, who won't, who will keep in touch, who will abandon the ministry, who will burn out, who will bloom, who will be spirit led and spirit fed?
I share my friend's anxiety. Much of it can be explained by what David wrote, but I also suspect that some the "separateness" that has intruded in our relationships is not entirely the result of conflicting academic schedules, but also a natural result of an unconscious awareness that many of our close temporal relationships will, despite our best efforts, die. Now, I hope this does not happen, but many seminarians have previously experienced the death of multiple relationships as a result of moving into lives of ordained service to the church. We know what it's like to see relationships die, and I wonder if symptoms of separateness are somehow a preemptive, protective response?

In any event, David encourages us to pray for one another. Hear, hear! But let's also celebrate together, hard, before we leave this place. Communion in the Body of Christ ultimately means that none of our relationships will stay dead. We have, after all, the hope of a new heaven and new earth, with renewed relationships girded up by Christ's love for us.

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