Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall.....

I'm staring at yet another blank page.
This one is my application for CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) next Fall.
Sample questions on the application:

  1. Give a reasonably full account of your life including important events and relationships with persons who have been significant to you, and the impact of these on your development. Describe your family of origin, current family, supportive social relationships, and your educational experience.
  2. Discuss the development of your religious life, religious organizations you have affiliated with, your participation in the life and ministry of your tradition, your decision to follow a vocation in ministry, and other religious experiences.

Blah, blah, blah, blah........

I'm just soooooo tired of answering these questions.
For three years I've been answering these questions.
For my seminary applications, for my UCC In-Care application and yearly reviews, for my Psych Evaluation, for my Field Ed interviews, for my upcoming Mid-Program review in which I have to review and update my entrance essay to include answers to a whole slew of theological and "growth" questions......and don't get me started on the Ordination Paper that I'll need to write next year.

Every time we start a new semester inevitably at least one professor wants us to write a "getting to know you" reflection essay in which we recount our spiritual/life journey in relation to whatever the topic of the class is.
The application I just turned in for the Border Crossing trip to Appalachia included a page of questions asking us to describe our background, our expectations for the trip, and an "out of our comfort zone" immersion experience that we've had.
In Field Ed I have to write weekly Theological Reflections, attend weekly and monthly meetings to reflect on my experiences, and I just handed in a four-page reflection on my progress/growth for the mid-year review.
And let's face it, writing a sermon is often just one long reflection, I may not be reflecting on my story (although there is an element of that) but I am reflecting on the ways in which THE STORY of our faith/tradition intersects with our stories.

Reflect. Reflect. Reflect.
I feel like I'm living in a world with mirrored walls where I can't get away from my own image.
I'm so tired of swimming inside my own head.
I doubt if aspirants in other professions have to go through this....
"Well Joe, you're half-way through plumbing school now, can you tell us how installing that toilet made you feel and in what ways it has led to your growth?"

I'm just whining because I don't want to write my CPE application.
Some of it can be cut and pasted from previous reflections but all these applications seem to ask the questions in a slightly different way or want answers to specific questions, which requires extensive editing and further reflecting.


This is why I'm looking forward to the Lenten series that I'm leading at my field ed site.
We'll be discussing how we would answer the questions of Jesus:
"Who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29)
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34)
"Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things?" (Luke 24:26)
"Why do doubt arise in your hearts?" (Luke 24:38)

In answering these questions we'll touch on:
Christology: Who is Jesus to us?; theodicy: Where is God in our suffering?; atonement theory: Why did Jesus have to die?; and the Resurrection: What do we believe happened and how does it inform our faith?

The good part about all this is that I get to hear how the people in the pews would answer these questions. I get to hear the reflections of others for a change. And I'm hoping we'll all get to know each other a little better in the process.
Gasp! I may actually spend some time in seminary listening and ministering to others instead of spending hours gazing at my own reflection? Horrors!


Juliana said...

I just discovered your blog, and it's great. I'm one up on you, though, or actually close to 10 up on you. In about 4 weeks I'll be a 55-year old seminarian. I finish in December, so reflecting (yes, endless, and again) for my ordination paper (also UCC) is the order of the day.

Maureen said...

Thanks, Juliana! Where are you going to school? I graduate in May so I'm almost done with the reflecting. Oh wait...then there's CPE. Dang! Good luck with your ordination paper! :)