As we wrap up our on-the-ground semester and I reflect on the past few months, I am reminded of both how far and how little I have come. As I try to glean a singular lesson or memento to take away from the fall semester of senior year, I come up short. I have no profound revelations, and I have no neat or tidy words of wisdom. Rather, I am learning that I am still learning.
Among my most fully-formed lessons from this semester were through the wise words of others. Dr. Nathan Henton shared with our class some of his favorite sentences: “I am grieving my expectations,” and, “We cannot care and not feel pain,” to name a couple; these particularly stuck with me. He also taught us to write about that which we care about and encouraged us to find things that, although possibly commonplace at face value, still hold immense worth: “We are still dazzled by color; we are not yet jaded to color.” These are the things we must hold onto now.
Dr. Kraig Martin challenged me to consider the various layers of our spirituality and theology and said that, in doing so, we are worshiping: “Ideas are spiritual because they’re non-bodily.”
Dr. Jack Shock continually teaches me what it looks like to be an empathetic person. He shared a childhood story in class not too long ago about a time that he grieved the death of a bird in his backyard: “I’m proud of my tender heart,” he said. “It was gifted to me by my mother who allowed us to hold elaborate bird funerals.”
I am grateful for people and conversations who help me inch closer to the person I am becoming, although I am beginning to see how ceaseless of a journey “becoming” truly is. In regards to my own person, I am learning that I incessantly reheat my coffee every morning, although I typically only drink around half a cup before I rush out the door. I am learning that I’m not the most pleasant person when I have too much on my to-do list. I am learning how much I love using a thesaurus. I am learning that I am not necessarily the most routine-centered person. I am learning that I really love sad movies. I am learning the various forms spiritual disciples can take in my day-to-day life. I am learning that I doubt myself a lot, but I know how to keep trying. I am learning that I don’t mind a rainy day.
I am nearly halfway through senior year and, in a lot of ways, no where closer to knowing what the future holds. However, I am surrendered to this present-tense posture of continued education. There is no bow to tie it all together; there is no conclusion paragraph to wrap up the journey; however, there are copious amounts of pending daily lessons, intertwining and marinating and teaching me how to keep moving forward.
So, for now, I am learning that I do not like to cook. I am learning what it means to be more patient. I am slowly but somewhat unsteadily learning how to be an empathetic person. I am unearthing both fundamental and peripheral nuances of my personality, and I’m vowing to not lose heart in this continual pursuit of learning.