One month ago, almost to the day, I drove away from the Virginia Theological Seminary preparing for a new adventure. Seminary is different than other types of graduate school in several ways that are hard to describe. My peers and I discussed these oddities of seminary on various occasions, but most deeply as we prepared to leave a community that had become our family.
There is a lot you have to give up to enter into life as a clergy person. You give up a sense of control over your life as you give it over to God (and your bishop.) You give up your home parish. If you are called to go away to seminary, as I was, you give up your friends and proximity to your family. You give up your financial stability. But in the midst of all that loss there is this tremendous gain in realizing your calling. As I sit at my desk in my new office typing this message to all of you, I can’t imagine being anyplace else.
I loved my time in Virginia and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Despite the feeling of family in that community, there was a part of me that could never internalize that it was home. You go to seminary in order to prepare for the next step in your call toward ordination. Seminary is not a destination; it is a beautiful stop along the road. Despite the deep sadness I feel at leaving that place, I knew it was time and I left with the people I loved the most.
One month ago, almost to the day, I drove up to my new apartment in Arlington. There were “welcome” balloons tied to the front porch railing. When I opened the door I was washed in the scent of fresh lilies and found my living room already set up for me. I went into the kitchen and found a fridge stocked with my favorite foods and a beautiful basket filled with cleaning supplies, snacks, tea, and other essentials. I hadn’t cried at all since leaving school but in that moment the tears came. I made a cup of tea and drank it out of my new Parish of the Epiphany mug. In that moment I knew I had finally come home. Despite being overwhelmed by all of the emotions swirling inside of me I could identify that there was one emotion greater than all the rest: gratitude. For the first time in a long while I can set my feet on firm ground and internalize – this is my home.