I spent last night at my seminary, from which I graduated five years ago, in one of the guest rooms on the first floor of my old dorm. I was there for a continuing education event which took place last night and this morning.
In some ways, it was like old times. I went with a friend, saw some friends from seminary days, and met some new people. The dining room is the same, the food is the same, and at lunchwe talked and talked just as we had not so long ago.
But seminary for me was unlike seminary for most people. Josh died right at the beginning of my second year, and so my last two years were a dream-like experience. A walking dead kind of experience I'm pretty sure that I was insane ~ quite literally ~ with grief. I remarked at the time that I felt as if I were wandering around on the surface of the moon. "How would you know what that would be like?" someone asked me. "I guess I wouldn't," I said. "But I'm pretty sure this is it." It probably had something to do with complete isolation and lack of oxygen, appearances notwithstanding.
Last night I looked out the window and recalled all those sleepless hours, night after night, when I would go out after midnight and walk in circles around the campus, trying to . . . I don't know what I was trying to do.
It was a strange experience, my seminary career. I'm so sorry that it wasn't what I had anticipated, not after the first year.
But tonight I think: What if I hadn't returned? (A lot of people thought that going back was itself the truest indication of insanity.)
I would have missed the conversations and emails I've had with friends over the past few weeks. I wouldn't even have those friends. I would have missed this whole life as a pastor that I've had, despite everything crashing and burning and going to hell, including me. I would have missed so much.
I would have missed my version of surviving.
I will never be that person who went off to school in the fall of 2007. She is long gone, never to return.
But I find that this new one is not so bad.