It is Wednesday, December 14, 2016–finals week for my first semester of grad school. I woke up from a long nap after my last final with one take-home set of essay questions left to complete. There was an intense feeling of sorrow for what was completed already. I’m not talking about the school work, although I may miss some of it next semester. It’s more about the people I got to spend time with who won’t be the same mix of people ever again. Most of them will be with me through the second semester of intro classes, but not all of them. After this summer’s course in Greek, our schedules will diverge widely, and so will the arcs of our career paths. Of course, it was meant to be this way, and there is nothing unexpected.
Still, for me, there is always sorrow in that things come to pass and you can’t get them back except in poorly reconstructed dreams and memories. For a couple of years now, I have these perennially running memories of things that are simply impressions of muggy, spring days in the Midwest. Days spent during high school or college when so much of my life was still in front of me, and yet even then I would at times lament the passing of things and feel myself to be an old man who was running out of time.
This is how easily life can fool you into thinking you are immortal. You don’t spend all of your time thinking about death, and if you don’t bother to look in the mirror much, you look down at yourself and even at the age of forty, you see a body that more or less looks like the one you had as a teenager. Except for times of illness or great pain, you continue to feel like living and being should just go on forever. Of course, they won’t, and now perhaps you have lived more of your life than less of it.
I am dawdling, and not feeling especially excited about starting the last part of my finals work. My take home essays are about long-dead leaders of the Church, and I am tired of writing and thinking about people and concepts someone else has mandated I think about. I am ready to relax for a bit, and let my mind wander. I want to think about how God could exist and operate outside of rigid Christian theological paradigms, and consider what the Jewish people have to say about their own Bible, but also read about what other people in the Ancient Near East were doing and thinking at the same time the Bible was being written. I am feeling rather ambiguous about my goal to become a pastor–I haven’t written it off, but I am disappointed in how my churches behaved toward me when I explained what I was setting out to do. I wish the pastor in Waco would have told me straight up that she thought I wasn’t pastoral material, if that’s how she felt, instead of kind of pushing me back onto the church in Austin, where I was told that I should have stayed in Waco.
Converting to some other denomination doesn’t appeal widely to me, but neither does remaining a Presbyterian. I no longer have the strong sense of conviction that I was taken with right after I quit my job at IS. I may want to be an academic. The world might turn to complete shit with Herr Drumpf in charge of everything, and none of these considerations will amount to anything at all.