feeling done. reflections on seminary

I realized last Thursday afternoon right as I was about to being my second class of the morning ("Church and Sacrament") that I feel Done.

Done with seminary classroom learning.  Ready to move to the next thing.

By done I don't mean "want to quit" or "frustrated" or "need to escape" or "overwhelmed."  I mean more "done" in the sense we feel after a robust meal--the main dish still sitting as an invitation in the middle of the table, but receiving less attention than the conversation and brandy and smiles slowing the evening.  Satiated.  Done.

It's hard to believe I've almost completed two full years of classes.  And they've tasted good.  Old and New Testaments, Church History, Christianity and culture.  Despite reading widely in Christian worlds before arriving, this experience calibrated me for the academic landscape of the history of Christian thought.  Gave me challenges and new ideas, but mostly taught me better how to teach myself.

This is important, because the one thing you find out fast is how much you don't know, and how much you probably won't get to.  Not even in the next twenty years.  It's this feeling of swimming in the ocean of knowledge. I know it because I sense it every time I see a new pile of free books discarded by a professor in the basement of the seminary—available for the taking.  I'm too eager... reading titles, setting aside my stack... wondering how it's possible I don't even know how to *classify* some of them.  And eventually, if I'm not careful, my intellectual curiosity drowns me into irrelevance.

So I need to start moving away from the seminary book table in Life, and head back outside.  A few things stirred this in me in the last weeks.  Seeing pictures of my home church serving the underprivileged in Memphis.  Visiting a city home group that sat and discussed how to follow Jesus.  A long conversation with a friend that orbited the gospel as the only real answer to love and purpose.  This is remembering how powerful being a "minister of the gospel" really is.  How much I have loved this and want to continue.

I don't regret this decision to take a step back and study.  I was so excited!  I know many of my classmates arrived somewhat "Done" in the first month (a side effect, sadly, of a system that requires an identical "professional" degree for those that seek pastoral leadership, regardless of their diverse gifting).  But I wasn't.  This is one of the ways he's made me—this crazy mental curiousity.  I've lasted almost a year and a half.  Sure there have been a couple classes that were partial duds.  And plenty of times where I've been exhausted from the work and needed rest.  But in general, my intrinsic motivation remained very strong.

But now I think I'm Done.

I'll make it through these last requirements.  I still have several:  complete this term.  Then finish a thesis and six additional hours in the Fall.  But I'll find myself looking toward the future.  Toward turning my gifts toward buiding the kingdom again, back on the front line.  Not in the basement.