I have been investing in new lives this week. Stories have been exchanged, pieces of souls have been shared, and I’m feeling as though uprooting was one of my best decisions. Of course, truthfully, it was hardly my decision at all.
The question most people ask is “How did you end up at Pacific School of Religion?”
A lot of it, for me, had to do with a writer friend who, when he found out I was vacillating between graduate school and seminary, suggested I consider seminary, more specifically seminary in Berkeley.
After telling this story, and with ballooning triteness as the number of retellings increased, I realized how much value I was robbing from the story.
When my friend suggested a Berkeley seminary, I had only known the guy two hours. My church had invited him to Arizona to lead our deacon’s retreat, and it took approximately two hours to collect him from the airport and drive to our retreat locale. Why did a two-hour relationship already wield so much credibility?
I don’t really know, but it did.
He led a study on the book of Ruth, identifying the book in four parts within the concept of hospitality: welcoming life, welcoming God, welcoming grace/the world, welcoming change. I was in the thick of welcoming life and God and grace and change, but I did not realize what it would all mean. (I suppose this is true of entire lives if we allow it to be.)
In looking over my notes from the retreat, the extent to which this past event is directly attached to the now has hit me with humbling gravity.
In welcoming life, one of the things seen in Ruth is life relentless, the barrage of things that just suck as a result of living in the world, and yet however relentless life can be, at its heels is God’s grace even more relentless.
Berkeley, thus far, is grace relentless after what has seemed like an endless season of wilderness. I still don’t really know what it all means, but this isn’t just about a seemingly positive change in my life, it is about a shift in living; a shift that for me began who knows when, but at least was realized at some point during the study of Ruth and has come to startling awareness.
It is the difference between living in life relentless or living in grace; in choosing to see grace relentless in the way our God stoops and carries and redeems.
It is seeing a God who does not cause life relentless, but acts in the midst of it.