One of my dear friends at Pendle Hill asked me upon my return from Kurdistan, “Were you faithful?”
“Yes.” I replied.
“And are you then released?” She continued.
“No.” I shook my head. “This is only the beginning.”
I’ve thought about that brief conversation several times over these past few weeks and each time tears well up in my eyes when I think of the act of being released from a leading. “How?” I wonder, “Can anyone go on a CPT delegation and feel released in return?”
There is only beginning. This work becomes part of life.
"How this become part of my life?" though is a different question; it is a difficult question. So difficult in fact that it has taken me a while to get into a space of personal and theological reflection. I’ve needed space for the experiences of CPT to stew inside me. Now, stories are emerging.
These past few weeks have been saturated with transition. Two weeks before I left on the CPT delegation I was offered a job at Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry (STM). I returned from Kurdistan, Iraq to Pendle Hill for five days. During those days I wrapped up my time with the resident program, gave two presentations on my CPT delegation and then moved across the country.
And it continues to open. Just before I left on the CPT delegation I was contacted by friends of friends who invited me stay with them for my first month in Seattle. I arrived on October 31st to an unknown city with many familiar faces. An old college friend picked me up from the airport and showed me around the house I would house-sit for two weeks before my hosts came home. So with the company of an adorable dog, I began my work at STM.
As the Interreligious Program Manager I’m still figuring out all the pieces of my position. These first two months are dedicated to listening; listening to faculty, staff, students, local faith communities, and intermediary partners- listen to their ideas of how to engage in interreligious dialogue, what projects people are already doing, and how I can help. My to-do list is pages long already and everything is so exciting! I have a lot to learn!
On a parallel thread to starting a new position here in Seattle, I’ve also been working at figuring out where I am going to live. I have been invited to consider an intentional community out near the mountains in a place called Issaquah. The community is looking at how to be good neighbors to everyone around them- including those who are homeless and who are working poor living in the woods. The house that I hope to be moving into is a collection of these good neighbors and the basement of the building is being developed into a sanctuary space.
At the end of each day, I retreat home and after dinner I collapse.
My exhaustion surprises me; until I remember all that has changed in this past month and a half. I am pushing through- In’shallah.
The intentional community in Issaquah is brought together monthly by the ministry of two of its members who host a bible study/ discussion group. Saturday was the first session of the year and we worked with the idea of remembering; holy remembering related often to shema the Hebrew for listening. One thing that struck me from our study was how deeply creative was the act of holy remembering. The act of reflection, or remembering transformed the present into the future. God commanded remembering not as an act of retribution or returning to old ways, but as a call back to the center, the source, from which newness grows.
And I have so much to remember.
I’ve been struggling with so many questions concerning life, lifestyle and life choices. I feel like every moment is caught between what is first nature in me and what is God’s will. I have chosen to live radically into my faith but I’m not always very good at it. And on top of all the transitions here in Seattle, the multitudes of stories to share from CPT have overwhelmed me to the point of shutdown these past weeks. That is changing. I am learning so much. I have so much to reflect on. I have so much to learn… it’s all exhausting.
However, when I sit and think about all that has happened to me these past weeks, I find myself incredibly thankful for where I am now and how my path has directed me here all along. I am deeply thankful for the space and grace that my friends and family have given me in this transition period. As I wrote above, the stories are beginning to emerge and those feelings of being overwhelmed are starting to subside. God’s shema, or holy remembering is written on my head and on my arm bringing me back to the center, back to the source and new growth is happening.... slowly, sometimes painfully, sometimes with beauty, and always in the presence of the Spirit.
So my blogging begins with the stories of the CPT delegation.
May I be faithful in my remembering.