Back in snowy North Idaho after the Wesleyan Theological Society conference.
Kentucky gets zero stars. Do not recommend.
No, Kentucky is really quite beautiful. As we drove from Louisville to Wilmore and then to the outskirts of Nicholasville, we were met with rolling hills (they really do roll), tall trees with thick trunks, bright green grass and too many thoroughbred horses to count. The roads are too narrow for my liking, but we managed. Except maybe for our sojourn on Catnip Hill.
My mom chose to come to the conference with me because I am famous for barely knowing my way around my own town – whatever direction I am facing is north – and because she wanted to have an adventure. She just didn’t expect that adventure to include a tornado watch that got upgraded to a tornado warning. And for the winds to knock out the power at our hotel for over 24 hours. Neither did I.
But back to Catnip Hill.
We ducked out of the late afternoon session of the conference on Friday. I was getting a headache, as usually happens when the air pressure changes rapidly. I needed to find some coffee (caffeine helps dull the pain) and then we decided to just grab dinner so we could eat at our hotel later thanks to the presence of a microwave in our room. There wasn’t much wind at Asbury Seminary in Wilmore, so we figured we’d be fine to make a quick trip. It’s not like North Idaho never gets windy.
My mom wanted to have an authentic Southern experience with Chic-fil-A, so we located the nearest restaurant on the map that our slightly sinister overlord Siri maintains and set off. Dark clouds began to gather. No big deal. We’re no strangers to that.
We took a turn off the main road and onto Catnip Hill. I’m not sure that we encountered a straight road at all in Jessamine or Fayette counties. But this was particularly twisty. We took it slow. The sun was still shining in that weird way it does when the clouds are gathering but haven’t quite obscured the light yet. None of the animals we saw on the various farms were upset at the weather, so we didn’t worry.
Until the upper part of an old tree fell near the road.
Thankfully, it wasn’t on the road, but you can be sure that we were questioning the decision to go out in hunt of Jesus’ chicken.
By the time we reached the establishment, the sky was heavy with dark, angry clouds and the winds were fierce. Still, no animals or local human inhabitants were upset. I briefly wondered if we ought to just stay at the Chic-fil-A, but I didn’t really want to be crushed by a soda machine should a tornado materialize, so as soon as our bag of food was handed to us we hit the main road and drove as fast as we could.
Sunlight and white, fluffy clouds ahead.
Behind us…well, you know how in the movie Twister there’s that famous flying cow?
I sort of expected to see that.
Thankfully, it was nothing worse than wind. Still, wind is a powerful thing and it had taken out the power at our hotel. We had nowhere else to go, so by 7 p.m. when the moon had taken place of the sun we were in our beds. Fully clothed, mind you, because there was no heat. We decided that God must have sent an angel to guide us back to safety and must be shaking God’s head over our stupidity. We talked for a few hours, my mom and me, and then tried to sleep. It’s odd to not be able to sleep when it’s pitch black and relatively quiet in your room. The wind just kept whistling until the early hours.
Still no power the next morning. I had no choice but to take a sink shower and make myself as presentable as possible. Just a little make up and wrinkled clothes. Thank God for dry shampoo and deodorant. Nothing like showing up for your first real theological work thing a total mess. I’m sure there’s a lesson in humility there.
I co-presented with my boss, so my section of the presentation was brief but it felt like I talked for hours. Normally the nervous energy I feel during public speaking propels me to pace the stage. This time I remained firmly behind the podium. I don’t know if that was out of fear of presenting or fear that I’d work up a sweat and nobody needed to smell that. I just did the best I could. I’ve been living with the material for over a year. I knew it backward and forward.
The affirmation and encouragement I received in that room at about 10:55 a.m. Eastern Time will stay with me forever. The seminary students and the PhDs and the pastors – they were all kind. I know I didn’t present perfectly. I forgot a few points and I’m sure my voice wavered. But they weren’t expecting perfect. They were happy with honest work, work that contributes to the ongoing task of theology.
I am grateful for this opportunity. I am grateful for Dr. Dean Blevins and how he sees something in me that he continues to draw out and encourage. I am grateful for the acceptance from those I now tentatively call colleagues. I am grateful that I didn’t pass out while presenting. I am grateful for these four years at seminary, coming to an end next month. I am grateful that my mom was with me and that she was embraced by all the Bible nerds.
Above all, I’m grateful to God. There have been many obstacles and many opportunities to get off this path and do something else. There have been many tears and restless nights. There have been many moments of doubt. God keeps pulling me on. God pours out grace upon me, even and especially when there are no showers.
But I think I’ll avoid Catnip Hill from here on out.
GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
Image Courtesy of Tom Spross
One thought on “The Sixty-Seventh Day of 2023”
Dear sweet Marie – your ability to put an experience into descriptive words always makes me smile. God certainly has blessed you with the skills you will need in the future path He has for you! Keep doing what you’re doing and trusting Him to bring out the best in what you write or say! Love you bunches!