Saturday morning I wrote the final exam for the course I've been taking all year. And can I tell you something? As I walked out of the exam hall and began the drive home, I had an unexpected reaction. It took me awhile to figure it out. I'll come back to that...
When I got home, Spike was waiting to take me out for breakfast, where I randomly rambled on about all the topics studied over the last year, and how they connect to what I do. He graciously allowed me to verbally unwind. He's good that way.
When I started back to university last fall, I was amused by the number of people who were surprised that I wasn't taking theology. I don't want to learn more theology. I've learned it. And I have a gazillion resources, networks, and theology professor friends who can fill me in on what else I need to know along the way.
What fascinates me, and what I think is invaluable to someone in my position, is understanding how the society in which I live functions. Understanding cultural grids, and invisible barriers, and power structures. It deeply impacts who we are. I could point to specific examples or applications in my church world, from most of the year's lectures. Why on earth wouldn't a pastor want to learn this???!!!
Pastors - maybe all of us - easily become stuck in the world in which we function. We think that's all there is. Over the years, reading historical biographies and historical fiction, as well as travelling on short-term missions trips, has challenged my way of thinking. Which is good, isn't it? Seeing how others have lived, thought, functioned entirely differently than me? It stimulates my own creativity and imagination. Sociology does the same thing.
I rambled on about this over french toast and sausage, while Spike smiled at his wife-the-nerd and listened. And as I rambled, I finally managed to define the unexpected reaction that was swirling around inside my head. It was - "I did it. Hey, I did it!!"
Since graduating for the second time in 199 ... 3 ... 4 ...? ... I've been saying I wanted to go back to school to study Sociology. But frankly, I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and pastoring in an urban setting is a lot of work, with quite a learning curve, especially at the beginning. If you can accomplish all your dreams at once, you need more dreams, in my humble opinion. This one was waiting for the right time.
Last fall was the right time. And it's not over, not by a long shot. But I finally got to start on that dream. And after a couple of semesters, I know that I was right to hang on to it, and I'm pretty excited about continuing it.
Thus my reaction - it's the emotion of watching a dream take shape, and imagining who I'll become as it continues. How cool is that??!!