Tuesday, May 28, 2013
May and August are special times in the life of the seminary. For Trinity Lutheran Seminary students, transitions are a part of life in community. Come every May and August you'll find moving vans, trucks, cars packed-to-the brim and excitement in the air for the upcoming year.
In August some students are new to the community and wondering what this seminary-thing is all about. Others are returning from a summer serving as a hospital chaplain or a year-long internship. And some have remained in the community. Nevertheless, newness and hope run rampant.
And lots of moving. Lots of boxes. And those darn three-flights of stairs.
There's something in the air come August that signals to people - "Come and help move boxes!" With the sight of a moving truck, people come. Returning students and their families know what it is to move, over and over again. Returning students know what it is to have the load lightened. Returning students know that beer and pizza often come after hours of moving boxes.
The seminary community knows how to welcome.
I remember conversations with new students; many didn't even remember the names of those who had come to lend a hand. It was all just too much. But people were there to make the transition a bit easier. My friend, Derek, always seemed to have a sixth sense of just when someone would need help moving. I think he helped move every seminarian and their families one year. It's just what you do in community.
Moving in the summer in Ohio may not be at the top of any one's list. But with many hands and water and laughter, the job gets done. And community is built. One box at a time.
That's why this past May graduation weekend at Trinity and with the moving of my husband to Missouri, I knew we were in good company. I had witnessed countless moves, helped countless students, moved myself, and now finally, was moving my husband.
In the same way that a community knows how to welcome, they know how to say goodbye - one box at a time. Step-by-step. Lots of laughter. And lots of pizza and beer.
The appointed time came for the loading of Stephen's boxes and furniture. One by one our friends came. Their spouses and their children too. Another lesson in community - everyone has a place. Even three-year-old Conner wanted to make sure he could carry Mr. Stephen's things, "What can I carry?"
In less time than it would have taken just Stephen and I we had the truck packed. Box by box. Step by step. Community at its finest.
I think of all the people who come to the seminary and all the people who leave. And all their boxes. All the hands that carry and lighten the load. Trinity's mission statement says that the seminary forms leaders for Christ's church at work in the world. I, for one, know that there are church leaders scattered throughout the US and the world who are serving God's people - one step at a time, lightening the load for others, and sharing lots of laughs.
I learned lots of helpful and insightful lessons in seminary, and even some not-so-helpful things, but perhaps most importantly, that which will carry me through ministry and transitions, blessings and challenges, will be the gift of moving and carrying boxes for others. Knowing how to welcome and how to say goodbye.