Last Monday at our weekly Theology on Tap gathering, we discussed death. Cheery topic, I know, but we had a wonderful conversation about funerals, memorial services, preparing wills and other documents, and how we perceive our own impending deaths.

Someone mentioned the idea of living each day as if it were your last, and another considered the idea of living each day as if it were your first. Somewhere in the middle of it we talked about our bucket lists – things we want to do before we die. Someone said he was writing a history of his life so that his close descendants could look back and see that dad had done things he wanted to do.

Now I have joked a time or two about a bucket list, but I realized at that gathering that if I had a list, there are a number of things that would already be crossed off it. And more – there are things that other people might wish were on my list, but I know don’t belong there at all. Does anyone know some of the things I’ve done – that I wanted to do? Does anyone know why there are things I haven’t done and am okay with?

It seems to me that we keep looking ahead with longing, or back with regret. But this kind of assessment lets us look at our lives with some sense of connection to who we are and where we’re headed. I want someone to know that not only did I not have kids, but I was fine with it. I want someone to know that I’d always wanted to live in NYC and go to grad school and I got to do both at the same time. I want someone to know big and little things have happened in my life that are pretty cool. I want someone – besides me – to know something about me.

We don’t know when we will kick the bucket. I hope it’s a long time from now, but just in case… here’s a quick list of some notable things I have gotten to do and have chosen not to do, and few things I still hope to do. Just in case.

Things I’ve wanted to do, that I did (even if I didn’t realize it was something I wanted to do until I did it):

  • Live in New York City
  • Live and work on a tropical island
  • Travel to the Channel Islands
  • Fall in love and live with a partner (it’s been a while, but I did it)
  • Finish my bachelors
  • Get a graduate degree
  • Discover where I belong spiritually
  • Organize a protest
  • Organize a voter-registration drive
  • Present a paper at an academic conference
  • Direct and perform on Broadway (accomplished on a technicality – I directed and performed at Union Theological Seminary, which is on Broadway and 121st)
  • Preach to over 150 people
  • Meet some heroes: Rita Mae Brown, Z Budapest, Starhawk, Marilynne Robinson, Bill Moyers, Harry Belafonte, Harvey Fierstein, Carly Simon, Lee Smith, Kaye Gibbons, Ysaye Barnwell
  • Sing for someone well known (Carter Heyward is a giant in feminist theology and I got to sing to her at her partner’s memorial service)
  • Get paid to act
  • Get paid to do comedy
  • Get a standing ovation
  • Be a redhead


Things that were never on a bucket list (and I’m perfectly okay with that):

  • Have kids
  • Own a house
  • Marry my high school sweetheart
  • Run a race of any sort
  • Go to the top of any building or tower


Things that still exist on the bucket list:

  • Be ordained
  • Figure out the answer to just one of life’s big questions
  • Conduct a wedding
  • Be able to support myself doing my arts ministry
  • Retire to the Channel Islands
  • Visit New Zealand and Australia
  • Be my ideal weight – just once, please?
  • Get Lasix surgery
  • Pay off my student loans
  • Play Mame and Dolly
  • Meet my grand-nieces and grand-nephews
  • Write a book
  • Meet one more hero: Stephen Fry

When I first formed Word Alchemy five years ago, it was with an eye to being able to work anywhere in the world. While I was comfortable in upstate New York, I quickly set my sights on working on a tropical island, and I would joke about working “the Nassau Way”… complete with wifi and electricity that extends to the hammock near the water and an administrative assistant well-versed in bookkeeping, organization, and daiquiri-making.

I dreamed into this further as I worked with Ray Patterson and his brilliant strategic life visioning process. And for Christmas 2009, Carl Eeman gave me a poster of that hammock by the sea. When I got the poster, I taped it (I thought temporarily) over a framed print of “Night with her Train of Stars” that hangs on the wall across from my bed. Since that Christmas day in 2009, I have looked at that poster every day I have been in that room. This is my view:


Since then, of course, I heard the call to ministry and am well on my way. Part of being on my way is seeking an internship position in a congregation for the year after I graduate from seminary.  As early as this past August, I started haunting the UUA’s Internship Clearinghouse… and was delighted to discover a new teaching congregation in Key West, Florida. Key West! That seemed so fantastical… yet what an opportunity! While other congregations began to fill the page, I found myself not willing to let go of my initial thrill, and added Key West to the sites I applied for.

Now I will admit – at some point, in the midst of interviewing with some large congregations with well-established intern minister programs, I began to think Key West might be too small and too green. And then I heard someone at another seminary say “everyone is applying there!” and I figured the pool would be too large and I would get lost in the mix anyway.

I am happy to say I interviewed at all the sites I applied for.. but after each of the first three, I felt a little uncomfortable, doubtful, and worried. I knew I’d be happy at two of them but it was clear I wasn’t a really good fit.

And then I talked to the intern search committee in Key West. It was an incredibly fantastic conversation. I heard places where my gifts would meet their needs … and of course where their strengths would teach me and help soften my growing edges. We laughed together, we spoke in first person terms, we engaged each other. And when I hung up I thought “this is it.” I then heard from my references that they’d had amazing conversations with the committee as well.

On Wednesday, December 18th, Rev. Dr. Randy Becker and board president Joy Taylor called to offer me the position as their intern minister, starting August 1, 2014… and now I am a part of One Island Family, the Southernmost Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

A day later, I traveled back to Round Lake for the holidays, and as I sat on my bed, I looked and saw that poster.

The dreaming… the imagining…the visioning.

Made manifest.

Sure, not precisely as I imagined it five years ago… but five years ago, I knew I wanted to live and work on a tropical island. And in about seven months, I will be doing exactly that… in a more meaningful, heart-felt, missional way.

Can dreams come true? Bet on it. And if you are open to how they will manifest, they may surprise you and be even better than you imagined.

As I entered my 50th year on this planet, I realized that it is my Year of Jubilee; it is certainly going to be an exciting year; I have several major creative projects coming up, will receive my M Div, will start an internship, and who knows what else? So many possibilities are on the horizon.

I am discovering each day what this Year of Jubilee means… there are biblical and historical Jubilees, which I’ll write about at more length. But there is also a personal aspect, which – at least to start – is a time of letting go, returning, delving into who I am and all I am meant to be.

I’ve decided to collect insights and inspiration on a Tumblr, cleverly called Kimberley’s Year of Jubilee. There I’ll put photos, quotes, songs, and thoughts about this journey. This blog will largely remain focused on Unitarian Universalism and UU ministry; the Tumblr will let me keep this year’s exploration delightfully collected in one place.

I hope you’ll join me in both places for the adventure to come.

self talkA few days ago, a dear friend rightly called me out on a bit of negative self talk. And while the moment passed, it’s been sitting with me since. I know that I’m a lot better about self talk than I used to be – I recognize my gifts and talents and don’t measure myself against others the way I used to. But still, I can get pretty down on myself, especially when it comes to things I think I should have more control over.

And I know negative self-talk – even in little bits – can erode confidence. This is the last thing I need, knowing I am applying for internships and seeing the RSCC soon. I need to believe in myself, authentically and realistically.

So starting today, and at least until October 31, I am on a focused mission to eliminate negative self talk and say something nice about myself out loud, within earshot of beloved friends, each day… and post some sort of affirmation about my self on Facebook. I’m not going to brag, or say things that aren’t actually true – or even things I suspect might be true but can’t be sure of yet. I simply wish to speak the positive truths that I know about myself, to myself.

I am either going to become more confident and breathing into the fullness of who I am – or an insufferable fool. Either way, by Halloween I suspect I’ll know something about myself.

And so it begins….

Many years ago, I worked with an intuitive woman named Coral, who was part astrologer, part therapist, part mirror. For the years we worked together, she held a mirror up for me to see parts of myself I couldn’t see, and couldn’t trust. Part of what made Coral so valuable was her unquestioning trust in her intuition; there were times when she would say something that was right on the money that surprised her after she said it – her own mind and heart led her to speak, and instead of filtering or thinking before she spoke, she just spoke. She trusted herself enough to know she was speaking from the heart. And she moved through her days trusting her intuition, living a full and rich life.

zaphodI have always admired that about Coral, always wanted to unquestioningly trust. But instead, I have this second mind that a friend calls “Zaphod” from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – this second mind worries, watches, considers, analyzes, and fears.

Mostly fears.

Fears being rejected, fears being hurt, fears being judged, devalued, scorned. My Zaphod Brain is anxious, envious, jealous, worried, nervous, and jerky. For years, I have longed to get rid of my Zaphod Brain, but I haven’t known how. I haven’t felt strong enough, old enough, daring enough, secure enough. It has kept me from speaking my mind, from living into my fullest self, from properly navigating relationships, from feeling free.

But something has shifted.

I’m not sure what it is; maybe some of it is having swallowed the red pill and seeing endless possibilities for serving the world and loving the expansive and infinite Divine. Some of it may be realizing that as I approach 50, I really do know a thing or two, and my seminary career has deepened my knowledge. I know some of it is my recent interactions with an old friend, whom I trust completely – “pre-certified trust” he calls it – and who encourages me to put my Zaphod Brain aside.

So in the last month, I have found myself doing things that are showing me what trusting myself is like: I’ve engaged a debate from antagonism through to a burgeoning friendship; I’ve conducted a discussion group where I realized I have theological knowledge despite believing I am not a theologian; I’ve called out an ex who was doing me emotional harm and haven’t backed down. I’ve stood on the side of what’s right over what’s convenient. I’ve stood on the side of love. I am speaking truth as I see it from the pulpit without apology.

Now for many people, these may seem like no-brainers. But my Zaphod Brain has been quite nervous, second guessing, sabotaging. Or at least has wanted to. It has long convinced me that there is only so much room, and stepping out means breaking the reasonable, much-needed protective barriers.

But what I have discovered is that the space has been there for a very long time.

I’m reminded of an early episode of the animated series Futurama, where the protagonist, Fry, needs a place to stay. His new best friend, a robot named Bender, invites him to stay at his apartment; of course, it’s tiny, with just enough room for a robot to power down. But when Fry gets a plant as a housewarming gift, he longs for some sunlight. Benders says “oh, there’s a window in the closet” and opens the door to a huge room – perfect for a human, wasted on a robot.

That’s me – that room has been there all along. Space for trust – in myself, in others. I am not pushing out through the protective barriers; for the first time, I am living into all the spaciousness of my mental, emotional, and spiritual capacity.

I am still surprised at it – and I’m sure my Zaphod Brain is freaking out as I write. But I can show my Zaphod Brain the big open spaces, the huge picture windows, and the magnificent view.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post – so much has happened with my health, getting moved onto campus for an easier second year, getting into my semester with amazing classes and new friends, presenting at the Joseph Priestly and St. Lawrence district-wide leadership conferences.  The semester’s half over.. and I thought I would share a little of what I’ve learned so far this semester:

  • There are a lot of widows in the Bible. And every time they show up, the lesson is: take care of those less fortunate.
  • Don’t discount the symbols in your life; you never know when one of them is going to speak a new message to you. How do you know a symbol is in your life? If you doodle it, wear jewelry with it, buy objects with it, dream it, look for it.
  • Fall in New York City isn’t as colorful as it is in Saratoga.
  • Planning a worship service with a Pentecostal woman from Jamaica and a gay Presbyterian man can bring more joy than you’d think to this white Unitarian Universalist.
  • One of the biggest gifts I and my fellow UUs are bringing to Union: our music. (They fell in love with “Blue Boat Home” and “For the Earth Forever Turning”)
  • Film crews love Union; look for us in upcoming episodes of Elementary, Blue Bloods, and the film, Kill Your Darlings, starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg (early 2013 release date).
  • There is always more reading to do.
  • There is always time for a glass of wine.
  • Those last two are often directly related.
  • In a million years, I never thought that one of my memories would be standing with Cornel West’s arm around my shoulder and singing “Love Train” with him.
  • People have infinite capacity for kindness.

For weeks now, I have been saying “you need to update your blog – talk about the spring semester, talk about summer plans, explore some of the ideas you haven’t had time to explore.” And I get the browser window open to the “add new post” screen, write a line or two, and then discard it.

I have felt uninspired. Uninspired to dig into the projects I have set for myself, uninspired to get the diet going, uninspired to have fun, see friends, read fiction and write fanciful things because I have time, even work on sermons for the supply preaching I’ll be doing this summer.

Let’s face it: I’m in a slump.

Now I know some of it is worry – my step-nephew has had a major medical crisis (which you can read about here), and which has absorbed a great deal of emotional energy. But there’s more to it… and it may be quite simple, actually. It may be possible that I was going at such a breakneck pace, using so much mental and emotional energy, that I haven’t recovered yet.

And I suppose that’s okay. I would have thought I’d be out of it right now – after all, it’s been nearly a month. Yet I have also never expended so much mental, emotional, and spiritual energy for such a sustained period, so it is no wonder I’m still getting through it. The good news is I am home in Round Lake right now, eating good food, sleeping in my own bed, spending lazy mornings with coffee and the cats. I feel a bit lonely – my sister and the occasional person strolling by doesn’t have the same energy as streets full of people and a couple hundred classmates – but it isn’t terrible.

I think maybe it’s okay that I’m in a slump. Once I get adjusted to this slower pace again and stretch into summer, I suspect I’ll pick up the books, crank out a pile of sermons, make good progress on projects, and write.

Meanwhile… just as as way of keeping track, here is what I HOPE to do this summer:

  • Read a stack of books:
    • Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life – Karen Armstrong
    • One of Our Thursdays Is Missing – Jasper Fforde
    • Jesus – Marcus Borg
    • Reading Ruth – Judith Kates & Gail Twersky Reimer, eds.
    • Beginner’s Grace – Kate Brastrup
    • Theatre of the Oppressed – Agusto Boal
    • Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time – Marcus Borg
    • Jesus through Pagan Eyes – Mark Townsend
    • This Odd and Wondrous Calling – Lillian Daniel & Martin Copenhaver
    • Heat Rises – Richard Castle
    • Women in Scripture – Carol Meyer, ed.
  • Outline and identify stories for my masters project (more to come on that soon)
  • Move books and organize them in my storage unit (including the pile I take from Linda Hoddy’s study when she retires next month)
  • Do the closet organization thing
  • Rework this site (I’m ready for a new layout)
  • Come up with ideas for my field ed project
  • Organize the cookbooks and recipes
  • Develop new spiritual practice (I’m growing bored with the current one)

A survey of stories from recent newspapers, news sites, and news blogs proves what we’ve long thought: the world is going to hell in a handbasket. Evidence includes the following:

Man-made climate change is causing massive disasters, unwieldy temperature fluctuations, species extinctions, and a pile of consequences we can’t imagine. And there are loud and attention-seeking deniers who make the work to address the issues all the more difficult.Voters are being disenfranchised by draconian state governments – with the worst of them targeting miniorities and the elderly.

Veterans are being slighted – they are homeless, suffering with PTSD and often addictions, they aren’t healing form wounds suffered in battle, and they are exhausted. And they aren’t getting their due.

Clean energy solutions are being sidelined in favor of outrageous greed and ill-advised big oil interests.

There are questionable practices over the war on terror that continue in the current administration.

A willful ignorance seems to permeate followers of one of the major political parties, with a clear and present danger to the reality of our all-American, Christian, politically moderate President.

Religion is being used as a weapon against nearly everyone – and ‘freedom of religion’ is being perverted for deleterious causes.

Sexual orientation and gender identity are being so demonized, our LGBTQ and genderqueer youth are killing themselves.

As a country, we have failed the First Nations miserably – and continue to do so.
Racism thrives.

Income inequality isn’t just a catch-phrase but a horrific reality that is causing starvation, homelessness, disease, and unease.

A party who campaigned on “jobs” hasn’t created one – and has kept the President from creating them, too.

Anti-union sentiments assault workers of every stripe.

Anti-education sentiments are destroying primary and secondary education – and threaten post-secondary education as well.

Freedom of speech and information are threatened by perplexing bills poised to destroy the internet.

I am outraged by them all. Every single cause (along with many more I haven’t listed) is worthwhile, needing support, focus, attention. But I have reached the bottom of my personal well of outrage, so I am asking for help.

As readers here know, I am a full-time seminarian and full-time editor. I did a great deal of my boots-on-the-ground activism in the 90s, when I had energy and youth on my side. But as I near 50, I find I don’t have the energy or the time. I can’t attend every march, can’t donate to every cause, can’t write thorough diaries on every abuse of power.

However, I can pick one, and run with it. The one issue that I’ve been carrying a torch for since I was a teen is the cause of women. And it is this torch that I need to focus on.

I remember as a young teen in the late 1970s, going to Girl Scout camp in upstate NY, learning about independence, strength, and equality from young women who were on the front lines of the women’s movement. In addition to the music of Holly Near and Cris Williamson, they taught us the words of Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Mary Daly. I emerged as a feminist (who knew how to build a camp fire and a lean-to).

I recognize that as a leading-edge GenXer, I inherited a movement already in progress: I didn’t burn my bras, because by the time I was wearing one, that had been done. I didn’t have to get the ERA on the docket, but I did implore state legislatures to ratify it. I didn’t have to fight for a woman’s right to choose, but I have continued the fight to ensure it remains legal. I have fought sexism in classrooms and in the workplace. I have fought for equal pay on a global and intimate scale.

I went for my bachelor’s degree in my early 30s and attended a southern women’s college, where I saw the next generation (closing-edge GenXers) reject the label “feminist;” I cannot count the number of times I heard “I’m not a feminist, but…” as they continued to speak a strong feminist platform. And I got to educate these women, who took the progress we’d made for granted, and show them all the places we still had work to do.

And now, here I am in my late 40s, and some things are better, but some things are horrifically worse.

I am outraged – and this is where my outrage must flourish. I am many things, but I am first a woman (technically a cisgendered woman, as I identify as strong female on the gender continuum). And the assault on me and my sisters has been so blatant lately, it is a wonder I can say we have made any progress at all.

Abortion rights are eroding on the state level, and many in Washington would see it be dismantled on the federal level. State-supported rape seems to be an optimal solution to the abortion problem – at least for men who cannot imagine the degradation and pain of transvaginal ultrasounds.Women’s reproductive rights are hanging in the balance, as the birth control fight surprisingly continues.

Health care is being denied to thousands of poor and marginalized women under the guise of “not supporting abortion.”

Daily, women are raped. And at least one presidential candidate suggests that a woman who conceives from this horrific act should bear the child anyway.

Daily, women are physically and emotionally abused. Yet the House GOP will not renew the Violence Against Women Act because it protects women they don’t care about.

Women are slandered on television and radio – and the typical male response is “it’s a joke.”

Women are vilified on television and radio – including movies, sitcoms, advertisements, and stand-up acts. All in the name of “comedy.”

Women are still being paid less than men, despite the Lilly Ledbetter Act.

There is so little regard for the women’s vote in the GOP, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone proposed repeal of the 19th amendment.

Women are being murdered for being women, are being mutilated, are being enslaved. Not just in other countries, but here in the United States.

Women are silenced.

Women are marginalized.

A few years ago, I thought I was at the end of my activism days – been there, done that, now it’s time for me to become a minister in order to help people of faith maintain that faith in the fight for justice. I heard my calling as a continuum of a life’s work – from learning to action to supporting.

But no more.

Oh, I’m still going to seminary and pursuing ordination. But I’m also standing up and taking active steps to fight against the invading hordes of 21st century medievalists who wish to silence my gender. I’ve rejoined NOW and Planned Parenthood. I’m attending various actions in my community. I’m writing letters and talking to people. I’m even helping in the fight against gender inequality in my seminary – a place that is light-years ahead of many theological schools but still suffering from the history of religion’s abuse against women. I’m seeking ways to ensure the very advances my generation took for granted don’t become part of a ‘used to be’ wish list for the next ones.

So please, I ask you, you who are outraged by the things I listed at the top of the page but may not have the energy to take up the cause of women, it’s okay. And please understand if I can’t engage in your outrage, as I’m too busy engaging in my own. Between us, we will share the burden and together, on many fronts, we WILL turn the tide.


Cross posted at Daily Kos.

Every Monday thru Thursday at noon, Union Theological Seminary holds a chapel service – they vary wildly, with many different speakers, themes, styles, music. Thursdays always incorporate communion, however, although the flavor and presentation changes each week.

The first communion chapel I attended two weeks ago was uncomfortable for me. As I have talked about a bit here and with others, I’ve been thinking more deeply the role Jesus might play in my life and in my theology. I have grown to appreciate the model, lessons, and hope that Jesus offers… but am still quite far from calling myself a Christian, as there are some seemingly important tenets of the faith that I cannot reconcile (and which I won’t go into at this time). Suffice it to say, however, I have grown to deeply respect a true Christian faith as modeled by Carl, and many of the friends I have made on Twitter and at Union. Thus, I feel strongly about my participation in some of the sacraments – or, I should say, refusal to particpate – particularly when it comes to Communion. In my mind, it is a sacrament shared by people who believe in Jesus Christ as savior and son of God; it is precious, meaningful, an important and sacred act of the faithful. Because I do not believe those things, I don’t believe I should take part – I haven’t taken part in a Christian Communion in almost 30 years – and I respect the sacrament too much to denigrate it by my half-hearted, unbelieving participation.

So the communion chapel two weeks ago was uncomfortable, because it was clearly a sacrament for Christian believers. I understood the message – and it was not for me. It’s hard to separate being excluded from excluding myself, but it was clear that this was not a ritual for me. I decided that I would probably skip most Thursday chapels as a result.

Fast forward two weeks to this past Thursday. I went to chapel despite there being communion, because one of my professors, David Carr, was giving the message. I figured that when we got to that part of the service I’d slip out, so I sat near an aisle. Professor Carr’s message was centered around the story in Matthew about the vineyard owner who pays everyone the same wage, whether they worked 11 hours or just 1. His message was about abundance, particularly in response to the latest charges against President Obama about ‘class warfare’ when he suggests that the wealthy pay their fair share. Carr spoke of Jesus’s message in that parable, that a society is healthy when all have food, and clothing, and shelter, and even an hour’s worth of meaningful work.

A good message… a healing one… but it was in the prayer that followed that God spoke to me (I am sorry to say I don’t know who wrote it):

God of abounding, lavishing, unfair grace,

At times, your generosity challenges us, overwhelms us, and even offends us. We ask that in this moment, you would push us to love one another more deeply.  We also ask that you grant us grace for ourselves in those times that we fail to love one another well.  As we approach your table, where all are welcomed and none go hungry, we are reminded that there are still many situations – in our own community and in the world – in which your abundance does not seem so apparent.  We now pause to offer up prayers for people and places where more of your bountiful unfairness is needed.

God of abundance, teach us how to live with open hands and open hearts, that we may tear down the barriers that divide us and contribute to the healing of the world.  As we come to your table, we ask that you continue to challenge us with your unrestrained love and meet us in all of our needs.  In your name we pray. 


By the time the prayer ended, I was sobbing. After the prayer, we sang Daniel Schutte’s “Table of Plenty”:

Come to the feast of heaven and earth!
Come to the table of plenty!
God will provide for all that we need,
here is the table of plenty.

O come and sit at my table
where saints and sinners are friends
I wait to welcome the lost and lonely
to share the cup of my love.

Another of my professors, Paul Knitter, presided over the Communion, and while he used many of the familiar words of the sacrament, he repeated the sentiment that this was an invitation to share of God’s abundance, to sit at God’s table. All are worthy – whether they believe or not, whether they work all day or just an hour. All comers… all hearts welcome.

God opened up the table to me, who feels unworthy and unwelcome, excluded and apart from. Me. God invited me to sit at the table.

And I could not refuse.

Still sobbing, I made my way to receive the morsel of homemade bread dipped in wine and the blessing Professor Knitter offered.  I sobbed through the final song, “The Peace of the Earth Be with You”… I sobbed in the bathroom after the service ended.

It has taken me until today to begin understanding what happened – and I’m still not quite sure, but I DO know that for all my feeling “outside’ – especially in a most decidedly Christian seminary, and with a most decidedly Christian boyfriend – God said “you’re welcome too.” God doesn’t seem to care that I have doubts. God doesn’t seem to care that I’m still quite angry. God doesn’t seem to care that I feel unworthy. God has a place for me at the table. How can I refuse?


Union has welcomed us, the 175th class to enter this seminary, with the theme of Stepping Stones. It is certainly fitting, as we’re all on a journey… wading into sometimes unfamiliar waters, not quite sure where we’re going to put our feet next. The Dean of Academic Affairs, Daisy Machado, talked to us about the story of Jesus walking on the water; Peter had faith enough to step out of the boat and was fine, until a storm came. Then he sank, but called out “Lord, save me.” Peter may have lost his step, but he didn’t lose his faith. He didn’t know where the next stepping stone was, but he was pretty sure there was one, and he reached out in faith in order to find it.

It’s that image that carries me, too, into seminary. In my piece on Getting to the Yes, I talked about Kierkegaard’s idea that we live life forward but understand it backward – and some of that is stepping out, seeking the next stone, not sure where it is or what it looks like. I have no idea where I’m going (woyaya!) but in faith (and with a lot of hard work) I’ll get there.

And so… all of this is but an introduction, to say that I’ll be using the category “Stepping Stones” to talk specifically about the seminary journey.

And what a journey it has been! A week in, and already my head is going to explode with all the richness and joy. Yes, I know, I’m still in those glory days… ten miles away from the muddy concert site as it were… classes don’t start until late next week. But we had an incredible week of orientation, everything crammed into fewer days because of the hurricane. Some highlights:

I met some of the most amazing people who will be on this journey with me – they are young and old, every race, every gender. Gay, straight. Christian, Jewish, other. They are still in school mode, or long out of college. They are already ministers or not sure they want to be minister. And their stories! Amazing stories of faith, hardship, struggle, and hope. Every one hearing a call to serve somehow, many – like me – unsure what form the call will take.

I met some of the most committed faculty and staff – from the facilities people to the president – all with a sense of calling, a sense of family, a sense that Union is someplace different. I know this place is special – it’s got a long history of being on the cutting edge of theological education, and situated as it is in a world class city, it’s got a special calling to be there.

I have already made some friends I feel will be with me for many years after our degrees are completed – people with whom I instantly clicked, who have a variety of experiences I can learn from. Some, like Tiara, are fellow Unitarian Universalists. Some, like Valerie, are close to my age. Some, like Clayton, are opposites in many ways but still feel like kindred spirits.

There was a delightful moment, speaking with Ruth Tonkiss Cameron, the Burke Library archivist: she shared the story of going through a professor’s papers and books – someone who taught in the first half of the last century. On the general list of contents was a note “book, Spanish”…when she got to it, she discovered it was one of the original accounts from the Spanish Inquisition. And yes, she too had that uniquely Monty Python moment: “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!”

There was a moment that moved me to tears – when, during a dinner, Dean Yvette Wilson came up to me, hugged me, and said “I am SO glad you are here – I remember fondly our conversation last fall.” She remembered some salient details from it…that conversation that convinced me that Union was where I should go. That she remembered me and welcomed me personally…wow.

There is, admittedly, some growing sense of “what the hell have I gotten myself into”… the workload will be heavy, and I do carry some fears about my ability to get through it all. And yet, I am comforted by the fact that I was chosen out of hundreds of people who applied, that something about my application made them say ‘this woman will fit in here’. I’m sure most of my fellow classmates are wondering the same thing – what have we gotten into – and yet we will be there for each other.

There are so many more moments from last week that I can’t even remember right now. Much of the week was a blur, with so much information and sharing and feeling brought into the fold. And this coming week will be filled with so much more – advisement, meeting faculty, and the opening day of classes. But I feel blessed, and happy to be on this journey. Not sure where the next stepping stone will be, but I have faith that I’ll find it – or at least be able to call out for help if I can’t.