We are on our way home, and I have a few minutes to reflect on the joy of learning with engaged seminary students. Questions, sharpened by dislocating experiences, constantly arise.
Wisely, the Director of the create program, Dr. Amy Hartsfield, invites persons to "live the questions" in the tradition of Rilke. The privilege of pondering--that spiritual practice rooted in the Bible--is of great value. You recall that "Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart," a proper response to the prophecies concerning Jesus. "Pondering" resists rushing to easy resolution; it requires one to live with tension and unknowing.
Being a learner, a disciple, allows one to wait on the Lord for guidance and clarity. Indeed, the very nature of faith demands that we follow even when the pathway is unknown. I am reminded of Moltmann's testimony as a young Christian: "The road emerged as I walked on it." Guidance for the next hesitant step may be all we have at times.
The fact the pilgrimage is undertaken together as "persons on the way" grants opportunity to see through others' eyes and learn from their unique perceptions. Central learners over these days of close contact have begun to listen better, quiet the heart, and be more attentive to the movement of God's Spirit in our midst. An Orthodox scholar once told me, "the closer one gets to God, the quieter one becomes." I have observed this in the learners--which surely includes faculty, too.
Now as we journey home, we give thanks for the abundant hospitality we have received and for the grace of learning. God continues to call thoughtful, committed, intellectually curious and spiritually grounded persons to ministry. I witnessed formation in their lives this week and am eager to witness where the learning will take each of them. Surely each carries more of the world in his or her heart after this remarkable time in Thailand and Myanmar.
Molly T. Marshall