I love my seminary. I think I’ve mentioned that before. I go to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC (at least until I’m graduated on May 12). It’s a fantastic community that takes its covenant seriously. Now, I’ve been in school a lot. A LOT. I’ve been in seven different degree programs in 6.5 universities (one of my degrees required a semester at another university – so I halfway count that one), at public and private universities – and now a seminary. This one – this seminary is the only one that’s felt completely like a community.
Once, when I was still trying to work full-time and go to school, I’d had a terrible day at work. Absolutely terrible. I left my office in tears. I’d called my husband and we had a long talk as I was driving to campus (late). I was thinking that the demands of my job were going to prevent me from getting the work done on time for my one and only class that semester. I got to the school, and I talked to the professor in her office after class. The first thing she did was pray with me. Because that’s what we do at this seminary. We take care of each other first. And then she was completely understanding. Don’t worry about the deadlines, she told me. We’ll figure it out. You do what you need to do. Whew! I instantly relaxed. As it happened, I relaxed enough that I was able to get my work in on time. And then a couple of weeks later that job and I…we parted company. THAT was not a community.
So this morning I was checking my Facebook feed and I saw this post from my friend C. (who gave me permission to tell this here). In her post she said that she walked into the refectory (which is what seminaries call a cafeteria), and there was no tea and it brought her to tears. I mean, sometimes, you really need a cup of tea. And Diane, who does double-duty in the refectory and the business office, Diane (who gave me permission to use her name), said that she would go and look for some, but C. said that she was already late for class, so never mind. And then Diane showed up in C’s class with a cup of tea for her, and C said she cried again. Another friend commented that Diane is secretly a superhero. This is true. Except it’s a poorly-kept secret. And it reminded me of another thing that happened.
Several years ago I’d had foot surgery just before the fall semester was starting (actually, this happened twice – but this was surgery on my right foot, so I couldn’t drive). I had signed up for a class – a really great class as it turned out – that was taught at the satellite campus downtown. In order to get to class, I had to take metro, change trains and then use my knee scooter over very bumpy sidewalks (the metro stops were several blocks away). The first time I went to class, I couldn’t get into the building. It was hot, I was tired – well, I was exhausted, and I had to go around and around until I found a way in. I had left early and ended up being late. I was very cranky. My very cool professor, Dr. Youtha Hardman-Cromwell, went and got me some water. She was my professor, but at that moment, she was my pastor.
That professor who prayed with me, Diane who brought tea to my friend C, Dr. Hardman-Cromwell, they’re all superheroes. And saints. Their superpowers are compassion, listening, and prayer. They’re saints because they’re holy people. That’s really what saint means. Holy. They live their lives in a holy way. They live the Gospel.
Here’s another poorly-kept secret. Wesley is FULL of people like this. Professors and students and staff. The professor who made sure that I had a key to the building where the art studio is because after my husband died she thought that I needed the time and space to be able to go in there and work. The friends who brought food by when Don was sick and dying. The classmate who stood up for another classmate when an outside professor (one who didn’t understand the community at all) was not living up to the covenant.
I love my seminary. It’s full of saints and superheroes. I’ll miss it after I’m graduated in May.
Of course, they do offer a Doctor of Ministry degree….
That’s it. That’s my mite.