My dogs are laying on the couch as I work. One is stretched out near my feet, lulled into an afternoon nap by the piano music playing on the living room speaker. The other is busily chewing on a bone, which she occasionally pushes over the cushion ledge and onto the carpet. She looks at me expectantly. This is apparently the game we’ll be playing this afternoon.
You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
a lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
– Psalm 61:3-4 (MSG)
This psalm has been with me throughout the last year. I’ve preached on the first four verses twice now. Today I am grateful for this particular translation. I am tired. There is an odd emotional, mental, and physical let-down of sorts following graduation. I experienced this years ago when I finished undergrad, only then I was not equipped to handle it. Yes, there’s celebration at the finish line. A lot of it. But there’s confusion, too.
No, confusion isn’t the right word. I think instead I’d say that there’s a little mourning mixed in with the celebration. Seminary was a safe place for me. I know that all of the political, social, and personal turmoil of the last four years would have done me in had I not had the structure of classes and assignments, and more importantly the camaraderie of classmates turned friends and professors turned mentors. In that academic environment I was affirmed, encouraged, challenged, and constantly reminded of the reality of God. I do not have the words to express my gratitude for each person I encountered on the way toward a graduate degree.
So it’s strange to no longer have those routines and rhythms. It will become less strange as time goes on. I know that. But today…I’m glad to be done and I wish there was one more class.
I’m glad that God understands these muddy emotions and unclear thoughts. I don’t have to explain any of it or try to sort it out. I can just sit with God. Listen as both dogs now snore. Sip my ice coffee. Allow my mind, heart, and body to stretch out.
God is good.
That’s probably my biggest takeaway from seminary. Sure, I know the long words. I understand how to write theology in a way I didn’t when I began the program. I can interact with ideas I fundamentally disagree with and have come to appreciate the spectrum of thought that remains within the bounds of orthodoxy. I still think a good debate is fun.
But all I really have to tell you is that God is good.
When your other safe places fail, or it’s time for you exit them, God remains. And you are safe with God.
Stretch out today.
Take a deep breath.
GRACE AND PEACE ALONG THE WAY,
Image Courtesy of Briana Tozour