Tag Archives: ISI

View from a Rock

Today was an interesting continuation of yesterday, and by that, I don’t even think I’m quite sure what I mean because I am still digesting it all.  I’m interacting with these ideas that are so extraordinarily larger than what I am currently capable of understanding.   I’m not entirely sure what to do about it, and that is, of course, a great thing.  It means I have so much to learn.  It means I am keenly aware of my own limited knowledge, but, still, wow.

This afternoon I had one of those few times where I was actually able to fully tune out of the world and just sit in silence, think, and pray.  It was a really cool continuation of everything I was thinking about and exploring yesterday.   I should have been exhausted, but I just wasn’t.  After lectures this afternoon, I kicked off my heels, put some shorts on, and walked the whole 50 feet between the hotel and a beautiful harbor.  I found some large stone benches and while I was initially leeching internet from Johns Hopkins and listening to music, my quickly ipod died, so I was left in quiet.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how I pray and what I pray for.  While sitting out on that big rock I tried to remember how Biblical characters talked to God.  In one sense, it seems as though it is and should be casual, just because He’s always there, but in the same sense, we are also talking about the Creator of the universe.  Out of fear of preaching Christian platitudes, I’ll stop there, but the apparent contradiction truly baffles me.

Somewhere between watching the ships, sliding out of my flats, and lying down on the big rock I became really overwhelmed with all the ideas and events that like my questions about prayer, seemed contradictory.  It was just like I couldn’t mentally compartmentalize all that I was trying to understand in my head or answer any of the few pressing questions that I’ve been contemplating lately.  For whatever reason, I looked up an old verse that I used to read a lot in high school.  Close to that verse in Zephaniah  I came across two lines that stayed with me for the rest of the day.  Now, I am throughly hesitant about taking Scripture out of context, but those two lines were just the calm my brain needed.

“He will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17

That line about quiet just got me.  Like His love just covered all my thoughts and questions.  I went back to my room and laid down on my bed and just had this image of Jesus sitting beside me and singing a lullaby as I finally rested.  And for the rest of night, whenever those same questions came back to me, I just repeated that verse.   And the evening proved to be amazing.


Falling Forward

I am continually amazed.

The ideas are fascinating, and sure, the lectures have been wonderful, but never in my life have I been surrounded by so many people like this.  Although, there really is much more to it than that.  It is as though all the quietness and solitude that characterized so much of my summer has been swallowed and consumed this week, and I love it.

Furthermore, it’s not just like all the loneliness of certain times earlier this summer suddenly doesn’t matter anymore or has somehow been compensated for.   I know the work that I am doing in New York is exactly where I need to be right now and the solitude that accompanied certain times was necessary because of the purpose it served.  I learned how to pray for people abandoned in the city.  I considered what loneliness really was, and I was not, to quote dear Anne of Green Gables, “in the depths of despair” by any means.  I had purpose, I was sometimes working alone for long term relational ministry that people are going to be able do because of what I’ve done, and I, of course, had God.

It’s just like something new is happening, and whatever that something is more meaningful than than some good company and lighthearted conversation.  I’ve hardly had any downtime whatsoever, but I’m finding myself in more constant and continual prayer than I have in a long time.  I can’t quite get over talking to Jesus about what I should be thinking, doing, deciding, and anticipating.  It’s all quite cool, though I’m not quite sure where it is going yet.

Define the Origin of the Soul

I wish I could remember all the topics covered tonight at the dinner table, but unfortunately that would be impossible.  I am currently at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute conference for Honor’s Program Fellows.  Quite a mouthful, but what it really means is that I get to spend an entire week with 49 other students and handfuls of professors who actually love studying the same things I do.  The theme is the Language of Liberty.  We certainly have quite a bit of variation in opinions and interpretations, but I have NEVER been in an intellectual environment where I could pose these questions with my peers who were coming at it from the same general perspective as me.   Differences of opinion are more nuanced than they are in, say, CSS at Wesleyan.

I LOVE THIS.  The lectures have been fascinating, but what I love most are free times where I can talk to the other students.  In casual conversation topics on the intersections of faith and politics, the beginnings of modernity, Catholicism (there are a lot of Catholics here), ancient philosophers, what its like to be a conservative at our universities, etc.  Never in my life have I wished that I actually knew Latin and been acutely away of all the authors I have not yet read as much as I have this week.

Tonight mentors (professors) and the mentees (3 per mentor) were taken out to nice restaurants close to our quaint Inn (all the rooms are named after a person of local historical importance and there is a canopy over my bed)  on the water near Baltimore, Maryland.  I can’t say I was much of a fan of the Italian food, but was throughly impressed that I was confident of which fork and spoon to use at all times (although I wasn’t quite so confident in my knowledge of how to delicately eat an un-pitted olive in that kind of setting)  Much of my dinner table conversation focused on Dante, the premodern age (very dense conversation), and the opera.  As we were getting up to leave, someone asked my mentor, a professor at the University of King’s College in Nova Scotia what the origins of the soul was.  That was perhaps a bit too metaphysical for me, but it served as a great conversation starter at hospitality tonight, where we joined the rest of the fellows for cocktails and conversation.

I’m still throughly deep bureaucracy of preparing all my affairs for the coming semester, which is still proving to be quite a headache.  However, in light of how incomprehensibly amazing it is to be here, that  frustration has become a limited frustration, and that is wonderful.

canopied beds at the Admiral Fell Inn

Exterior view of the Inn