This morning I woke up with a splitting headache, which is not, now that I’ve been off Tamoxifen for over a year, normal for me. Also, I’ve been doing this hybrid workout series of P90X3 and PiYo, and that combo is, apparently, even more killer than either of the two workout series on their own, so my muscles were screaming at me. It was when my stomach started feeling sour that it dawned on me that maybe, even though my brain wasn’t telling me that I was nervous about my doctrinal defense today, my body was.
In my paper I was meant to defend I said, “I believe that the starting point of pastoral care (whether as a traditional pastor, or as a spiritual director or life coach) is to focus on God and the person, prayerfully bringing them together, and letting the two of them work out the implications. Then the pastor or director can speak into the person’s life as the Holy Spirit indicates, and as a part of that working out the implications. I don’t believe starting with the implications is ultimately very helpful.” But today I wasn’t “starting,” and I was going to have to talk about implications, I guessed.
I did some yoga and got myself ready for the day, and then I went over to the church where I was going to be “defending” (or explaining, or something) what I believe. It was 9.30. My defense wasn’t until noon. I sat in my car for about an hour and a half, and read my Bible, and prayed, and thought, and listened to the birds because we can now hear birdsong in the morning after a winter which has quite frankly picked New England up in its frigid fangs and shaken it silly for about two months.
I watched the ice melt under some blobs of snow so that the blobs were no longer pedestaled above the pavement, and the former ice pedestals were instead trickles of water running down the parking lot. Then I went inside and worked with one of my professors on a website I’m helping him with.
Then the other professors and one of my mentors showed up and we all sat in the room where I was to be interrogated. Everybody ate lunch and talked congenially, and while I joined in the congenial talking because I really do like my professors and my mentor and feel pretty relaxed with them, I felt still a little too nervous to eat. At about ten minutes to noon, Prof SysTheo explained how this “exam” was going to go, and prayed for the process, and it was full steam ahead.
Last semester, I had to write a series of approximately two-page papers which, together, turned into a thirty-five-page paper covering my understanding of: own personal conversion and calling, the Bible, God, humanity, sin, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the church, eschatology (the study of “last things”), some select ethical topics, transformational ministry, and an analysis of my personal growth during my time at seminary. All the professors had seen this paper before today and came armed with questions. It’s a good thing I do feel pretty relaxed with them, because I definitely couldn’t answer all their questions. However, even in the process of this exam, I learned stuff, and the feedback was very positive and encouraging. They prayed with and for me at the end, too.
All that to say that I guess I really will be graduating in May! For some reason even though the graduation itself hasn’t happened yet, just the process of going through this today makes me feel quite happy and free and full of ideas. And the sun stayed out all day. It was a good one.