In the Beginning

Did you ever have one of those moments where you just knew, deep in your bones, at that moment, you were right where you were supposed to be? A moment of clarity, of affirmation, an Aha Moment, or a realization of yourself and your place in the world? These moments are not always permanent, nor are they always 100% clear, but somehow you just know that something clicked for you, and you also know that you want to do everything you can to follow this intuition.

I had one of those, a few years ago, while I was still in college. I was attending a conference, my first official interfaith gathering as a young person who was just beginning to explore what it meant to be a Christian in a religiously diverse world. As a college student, I was by far the youngest person at this convening that included Catholic campus ministers, Jewish spiritual directors, Sikh activists, and various other spiritual nomads, but we gathered because we all believed that interfaith dialogue was an important tool in working for peace. Towards the end of the week, I was walking from my room to another session when suddenly a wave of assurance washed over me. I realized, and I heard, from somewhere deep inside of me, “Yes, this is exactly where you are meant to be.” I was meant to be at this place for this conference, true, but I was also meant to be in this place where faith is a source of hope and cooperation, instead of a reason for dismissal or conflict. I was meant to be in this place where I begin to hear God’s call to ministry in my own life, and I was meant to be in this place where I seek mentorship and guidance from those who have gone before me. Yes. This is exactly where you are meant to be.

That was three years ago, and I still remember the intensity and clarity of that moment. I don’t know how often moments like that come along, but they can serve as inspirations and reminders that God does work in beautiful and often mysterious ways as we learn to navigate what Mary Oliver calls, “our one wild and precious life.”

For the past two years I have served as an AmeriCorps Member at my alma mater, Juniata College, in the Campus Ministry Office. I have been the Interfaith Service Coordinator, coordinating a program called Planting Seeds, in which students of different religious and non-religious backgrounds learn and serve their community together. Two years ago I was accepted for a Master of Divinity program at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, MA (right outside Boston). However, part of discerning a call to ministry is discerning the timing. I have since deferred my admission to ANTS twice, both times in order to continue my ministry and service at Juniata. However after two years, now is the time.

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Wilson Chapel on Andover Newton’s campus

At the end of August I will pack up my (relatively few) worldly belongings and make the 7.5 hour trek from Huntingdon to Boston, where I will live and study for the next three years. This is exciting, this is challenging, this is unknown! But I trust that this is the right place for me, and the place where God is calling me… deep, deep in my bones.

What is an MDiv, exactly? Is seminary different than graduate school? Why Andover Newton? What do you want to eventually do with your degree? And why is your blog called Agape Latte? These are all great questions and ones that I will be sure to delve into during future posts. (To answer the last question though, I recommend you check out the About Lauren tab above.) For now though, I thank you for your support and encouragement as I continue to be in conversation with God, and with you, about this journey of seminary, ministry, interfaith, and the adventures along the way.

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