Week One: The Theological School Edition

It has been awhile since I had to build a life that revolves around a school schedule. My last degree, my MA, did not have a physical class schedule and, as we were all located in many different time zones, school happened when I fit it into my life. Now, however, my life is having to have a distinct school rhythm. I need to regain the art of packed lunches that can be eaten in the classroom. My lack of foresight around this became very evident on Thursday: between 8:40am when chapel begins and 2:30pm when my last class ends I have no breaks. To make matters worse, the last two hours were two instead of the one I was expecting, they happened in an airtight sauna of a room, and they were my first class of attempting to learn a new language (Biblical Hebrew). To say I was cranky would have been an understatement.

With nine textbooks to read from weekly, plus the book for my “book report” in one class, I have never been so thankful that I am a fast reader. Mid-week, my head threatened to explode with the stress of having to figure out when everything was due. So I made a handy colour-coded schedule that is stuck to my cupboard door. Then, when my eyes mutinied in a staggering headache from over use (both from reading and from the scourge that is Plants vs. Zombies), my godmother came to the rescue and took me away from the house for several hours of shopping – both the necessary supplies shopping and the for-fun shopping – and we discovered a fantastic cafe for lunch. (Incidentally, it is in this cafe that I now sit as they have the perfect atmosphere for me to be able to think, read, and write. And they have wifi.) Feeling energized by that and by some living room floor yoga, I was able to tackle the Hebrew alphabet for several hours last night.

But I think the class I have engaged with most, at this point, has been Systematic Theology. My prof looks like Bob Ross (though with slightly less hair on the top of his head) and has nearly as soothing a voice but a superior sense of humour. We spent most of our last class talking about some of the influences existentialism, in particular Kierkegaard, has had on our current ways of thinking theologically. Having read a fair bit of Kierkegaard and having spent a great deal of time immersed in existentialist theories of counselling practice, I found it fascinating. I have filed away these ideas in the “When I actually have time to think about other things” file so that I can further process how my ideas of how I practice as a counsellor fit, or do not fit, with my theology and my views of the individual and society.

Today is my favourite kind of day. It is sunny and cool, but not too cool. Instead of the 35C+ we experienced earlier this week, or the muggy thunder and lighting with tornado warning storms of Wednesday, it is a perfect 18C with a cool breeze that makes cycling perfect. It has the feel of an end-of-summer-beginning-of-autumn day. I’ve cycled about 17km so far today, with another 5 or so before I get home, and that has done wonders for my sense of well-being. I have read a chapter of Church History, glanced at the Hebrew alphabet, and done some work on my bicycle (it is going to take some time to get my bike back to top shape after the movers messed some things up. Fortunately that is the only damage they did to my belongings.). This afternoon will include tea and textbooks before making applesauce while watching a movie recommended by a good friend.

Week one, I own you!

Rewind and Fastforward

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It has been a long time since I paddled a canoe across a still Ontario lake.

Yes, I’ve canoed in the intervening time, but BC shorelines are not the same as Ontario ones. Ontario ones, in comparison, look so “quaint” and miniature: the trees are smaller here, the rocks less jagged and imposing. As some of our youth scholars reminded me, however, they are no less dramatic, no less beautiful, and no less dangerous.

I found myself reflecting back to weeks spent at the cottage in the lakes of Ontario as a child. We would take early morning paddles around the lake looking for turtles and loon nests and listening for the call of the loon. I relished the stillness and the silence of the moment and would try and paddle as silently as possible.

Like birdwatching, canoeing is one of those things that I associate with my mum.

I was paddling home across Cameron Lake, enjoying silence in the companionship of my fellow-paddlers, when I began to reflect a little more on what I was doing. Mum used to lead canoe trips with young people on Ontario lakes. Here I was, some odd 40 years later, canoeing on Ontario lakes with young people for the first time as a leader. Its the closest I’ve felt to mum in a long time.

Ask & Imagine

Glory to God whose power working in us can do infinitely more than we can Ask or Imagine

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I’ve been here for nearly a week but “getting settled in London” still hits me as a bit of a misnomer. I spent two lovely days with my godparents, have seen and dropped a few things off at the place where I will be living come the end of the month, and now am living at Huron University College residences for the program Ask & Imagine.

As of yesterday, we’ve all met, we’ve played games together, we’ve cooked and eaten together, and we’ve worshiped together. Today begins our first full day. It is as much a new experience for all of our young scholars as it is for me. And it is fantastic.