Saturday, November 21, 2009

The First Goodbye

Saturday, November 21, 2009
Day 77, Summit Semester

Tonight was our first goodbye. Of course, it wasn’t really – not in any sense. (I think the first goodbye to really hit was five weeks ago when Dr. Williams was here – he connected with us in a way that other visiting speakers just didn’t, and he was the first to prepare us for going home.) But in another sense, tonight was one of the most significant goodbyes we will have this Semester.

This Semester was very different from years past in many respects, but perhaps most of all because Bauman was not our scholar-in-residence, living here at Snow Wolf Lodge the whole semester but traveling back and forth every week from Hillsdale. He said today that he’s spent four and a half 40-hour workweeks just traveling this semester – yet he also feels this is the most significant work he does all year. And for this, his sacrifice and dedication, we are very grateful.

Yet it was weird tonight – our last class with Bauman. It was pretty anticlimactic – and I’m actually really grateful for that. I’m just not a fan of big blubbering drawn out goodbyes – though sometimes that’s necessary, and I’ve certainly experienced those (and will again… probably next week…). We just had class as normal – finished up the overview of the Reformation with the Anabaptists and the Council of Trent tonight, after the Calvinist/Arminian lecture this morning. (Quote of the day from Bauman: I’m a no-point Calvinist, which is not the same as a pointless Calvinist – a pointless Calvinist is redundant!) We asked a last few questions, he commented for a minute or two about how we’ve grown this semester, and we stood and applauded. That was our last class.

We hung around for a while afterwards. Bauman signed books, took pictures with us, and joked around. He’s been very gracious with his time the past two weeks, staying an hour or more after class to answer our questions. Getting to talk and just hear him explain things in a smaller group of four or five has been just amazing. I’m so grateful for him and this Semester.

And in many ways, I’m ready to be home. In many ways, I’m ready to be done here. (Not in all ways – a lot of me wishes we were coming back next semester…) Yet it is still so weird. Today was our last Saturday – talking at breakfast I realized that I wouldn’t be here this time next week. And I’m okay with that – but it’s going to be so very different.

One of the most surprising things to me is that looking forward to these goodbyes is much harder than graduating high school – even though I had been with some of my classmates for 14 years. I guess some of it is geography – even though we’re scattered, we’ll probably all be back in town for holidays and stuff for the next couple of years - as opposed to my friends now being scattered all over the US (and South Korea).

But I really wasn’t expecting to be impacted this deeply by this community. I came in with one idea of community – based largely on my friendships at CCA with the friends I’ve had for a decade – and I’m leaving with an entirely different understanding. As Dr. Williams said, this community is just about as close to being what the church is supposed to be as about anything. And there is a factor here I haven’t experienced before – of living life with 40 people day in and day out for three months – spending an hour and half at the dinner table together every day, sitting in the same classes, wrestling with the same questions, doing the same chores, having the same crazy fun on the volleyball court. And the depth of what we do – from class to conversations over lunch that carry over to dish crew that we pick up again after dinner – and the ridiculous amount of inside jokes we’re able to accumulate every second… it’s so unique. I want everyone I know to experience this because it is so amazing.

And yet I know that’s ridiculous, impossible. So the challenge in going home is A) keeping up with the friendships we’ve developed here, and perhaps more importantly, B) developing and cultivating a sense of community, of deep friendship at home. It’s this second part that I’m kind of worried about, honestly. In a sense I’ve gone from having friends I’ve had all my life at CCA, to really deep friendships here at Semester, to not having the same kind of community at all at home. I haven’t yet experienced life at home, with my old friends at college, and I don’t have any idea what that looks like. I know I’m called to do CP!, but it’s definitely not the social experience this has been. It’s going to be radically different going from having 40 people keeping me company and accountable 24/7 to be studying on my own for most of the day.

So I’m not quite sure what that is going to look like, and I have no idea about what my schedule will look like either. It’s crazy how much more I get done when I have a schedule and stick to it. Not having internet or phone here means there are a lot less distractions, but the test of what we’ve learned is not how much we accomplish here but how we take it home and apply it and implement it for the rest of our lives.

One of the best ideas we’ve talked about in going home is to make a list of all the things we’re looking forward to about going home, to remind ourselves that this isn’t the end of the world. (And seriously, we’re not that depressed at all – it’s just a very weird time…)

So here’s my partial list (I’m sure there’s more… and these are ordered as they jumped into my head – not a whole lot of significance)
• Being with family!
• Church! I’ve really missed it – definitely more grateful for it now…
• Seeing and getting to regularly communicate with old friends
• Getting to read all the books I already own and need to read
• Organizing my lifetime reading list
• Working with missions stuff at church
• Working with media stuff at church
• Hanging out/investing in the youth group
• Normal cell phone use (yes, this is this far down the list)
• Getting a new cell phone – possibly more excited about this – I’m not sure what I’ll do when I don’t have to climb a mountain to get coverage every-other day or so, haha…
• Limited internet use – I really have no desire to use it every day! (except maybe for blogging…we’ll see….)
• Processing through more of what we’ve talked about here – especially talking things out with people
• Working around the house and yard – I am excited about this – regular work crews grow on you, though I’m not sure you want me to put up barbed-wire fences – those are the most fun by far! (seriously….)
• Eventually talking with M&Ms and trying to figure out more of what I’m specifically called to – discussions here have raised a lot of really good questions I need to wrestle through

So yeah. That’s what’s running through my head. Hopefully it made some sense.

And I am looking forward to seeing y’all this week!

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