Thursday, May 21, 2015

Energy, Intelligence, Imagination, and Love

One year ago today, Rev. John Cleghorn spoke at the Baccalaureate Service at Washington and Lee University. Rev. Cleghorn is a W&L alum and PC(USA) pastor at Caldwell Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. That information alone should tell you how much his message spoke to my soul. One year ago, I was saying see you later to a place I had called home for four years and a community that had become a family, one I have not seen since then. Oh, Shenandoah, I long to see you... I was looking forward to a summer working at the camp where I grew up before taking off 9,000 miles around the world to live and serve in the Philippines for a year.

As he closed his remarks, Rev. Cleghorn commissioned us into the world to work toward the common good. As a good Presbyterian minister, he asked us one of the questions standard in ordaining Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders (officers and pastors in non-Presby speak).

Will you conduct yourself with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?

The entire class of 2014 was standing, and most did not know exactly how to respond to this question. I firmly stated, "I will," while my Williams sister beside me enthusiastically proclaimed, "Yes!" In order to hold us accountable, Rev. John asked us to put an event in our phone for one year from that date as a check in. Have you conducted yourself with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?

These words followed me at least once as various church bodies commissioned me to this year in the Philippines. Serving as a bridge connecting my W&L experience and my YAV experience, this question helps to confirm that I am where God wants me to be. I hope and pray that it continues to follow me through another YAV year and the ordination process.

For me to say that I have acted with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love every single moment of every single day since that Baccalaureate Service would be a bold-faced lie. However, I have striven to live intentionally and communally to work toward the greater good. That involves working to be in right relationship with others and with God. It means struggling with the ways that we are complicit in systems that keep people poor, deprived, oppressed, marginalized, exploited, and suffering. It is thinking critically and asking questions. On the other hand, it also includes being fully present with others during moments when the Kingdom of God is truly at hand.

The road from May 21, 2014 to May 21, 2015 has not always been easy. More often than not it has been like a back road in Rockbridge County with unexpected twists, turns, hills, and bridges that go over one lane of the interstate and under the other lane. It has not always made sense, but it has been a journey. In the words of Stephen Paulus, "There's no such beauty as where you belong." For right now, this is where I belong. Here's to more years of working toward the common good with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love.

Most of my wonderful, loving family at my graduation last year. Missing Rachel and all of you! See you in 2 months, 10 days!

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