I’m sitting in my dorm room (I’ve never actually lived in a building with giant stone pillars at the front entrance before) looking out over the Minneapolis skyline and preparing to make an airport run to bring in a friend. Yes, the distance education students are gathering from around the country again for a week of intensive. I’ve missed them since January, and I’m looking forward to greeting them anew.
Everything’s being redefined for me as I go through this program. I guess this is part of pastoral formation, this disconnection and reconnection. That is, old ideas of community and belonging are expanded. The old is not lost, but embraced in the new.
My mind is restless these days, between Ames and Des Moines and St. Paul, between Maine and Boston and rural Iowa and South Africa, between Ireland and Germany and Palestine. I’m becoming more fully aware of the connectedness of it all, a connectedness that is spiritual as well as technological. I feel like I’m drifting into a new conscious awareness.
We move from the belonging that is family to embrace the family of humanity. We move from the community that is neighborhood to embrace the community that is global. We move from the idea that “charity begins at home” to an understanding that we are who we are only in that we are formed by the broader community. The African “Ubuntu,” “I am because we are”, becomes significant. We only begin now to know what that will mean in practice.
Indeed my practice has changed from a monastic style of art-studio life into a life of books and lectures, but also into a life of activism, listening and lobbying. It is a life that becomes familiar with airports and international phone calls and cross-cultural awareness. It isn’t quite what I expected, and I’m sure it’s a lot more than I know as of yet.
So, back at the seminary, everyone is arriving from hither and yon, and we will be intensively together and then disperse, into our own contexts and then, well, only God knows where. May God continue to expand our hearts with the Divine love.
If I were going to paint the word “disconnected” at this point I’d paint a dandylion in its puffball stage, or a milkweed in seed. On this Pentecost weekend, I pray we will be open to the wind of the Spirit.