There is something oddly, deeply familiar about this time and place called seminary.
Perhaps it’s because the private, Lutheran, higher education vibe resonates with my experience from Luther College. It’s also a small campus, with an emphasis on community, faith, and learning.
Maybe it’s merely the fact that I’ve been to Wartburg Seminary on numerous occasions over the last decade. I’ve visited as a prospective student, as a conference attendee, and as a friend visiting current students. If there was a possibility I would be a student someday, it certainly wasn’t hard to imagine myself into this place.
Still, I think it’s more than just my own experience or imagination that bring up these feelings of familiarity. It’s almost nostalgia, like my very being knew this long before I would realize it.
Even though everything about this place and community is new to me, I can’t help but feel a sense of ‘returning’. There is an abiding peace that invites me into this place; a wholeness that I haven’t found elsewhere.
As best as I can describe it, it feels like coming home.
In this new home, despite all the drama, stress, and sadness that comes from uprooting one’s life from the familiar, Allie and I have somehow found the courage to admit, “this is was what we were meant to do”.
There’s no delusion of grandeur; this new life won’t be easy, but with patience and practice we’ll hold on to the belief that we are not alone and that somehow it’ll be worth it in the end.
As the beginning of our first year of seminary unfolds, my thoughts go out to my fellow seminarians, in the hopes that they too will find a peace that surpasses understanding in this new life, this new way of being, this new home.
The prayer I offer for us is an excerpt from John O’Donohue’s poem, Blessing for a New Home.
May this be a safe place
Full of understanding and acceptance,
Where you can be as you are,
Without the need of any mask
Or pretense or image.
May this home be a place of discovery,
Where the possibilities that sleep
In the clay of your soul can emerge
To deepen and refine your vision
For all that is yet to come to birth.
May it be a house of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is never lost
Through the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be great delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.
May you have the eyes to see
That no visitor arrives without a gift
And no guest leaves without a blessing.
O’Donohue, J. (2007) ‘Blessing for a New Home’ in To Bless the Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings. London: Bantam Press.
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