What a beautiful moment.
It was one of those moments that was filled with so much awe and fantasy that it should have been instagram-ed. I’m talking about today’s benediction in chapel.
As a student, I didn’t go to chapel much. But now that I’m working at school part-time in this funky research role, I’ve found myself going to chapel more often than not (3 of the last 5 services, which is a big ratio for me). Maybe it’s my insatiable need for community, to not feel alone, to feel like this unnervingly unpredictable Spirit is still working in and through me, and God hasn’t left me yet amidst the full-time-with-benefits job search.
Apparently today was ‘suit up’ day among many first year students, which was super cute, and I’m so excited for them. So in my effort to wear relaxed brown slacks to look like a leader among students, I ended up looking like a student among the next wave of hopeful young adult social entrepreneurs and leaders. I’m okay with that. But it’s just another marker for me that the energy and feel and look of this new batch of students is different. And it’s good, it’s change, and their hopefulness rubs off on me.
Today’s particularly beautiful moment came at the benediction. The whole service was crafted with a multicultural lens inspired by the community at Christ Lutheran Church, and I loved it. Dr. Mary Sue Drier delivered the message and proclaimed the grace of God. She had us stand for the benediction, the sending and blessing of the congregation at the end of the service.
We all stood. I couldn’t see Mary Sue. True, she’s not the tallest person in the world, but another factor was the people. There were so many students in chapel that I couldn’t see over them to see her.
There were so many students in chapel that I couldn’t see over them to see her.
All I saw was a single hand, her hand, raised high and confident above the crowd, as if she didn’t give a damn that not everyone could see her. She prayed, “May the Lord bless you and keep you; May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious unto you; May the Lord look upon you with favor, and give you peace.” She blessed us, just like we all bless each other in the little things every day out of service, justice, and kindness to our family, friends and neighbors. She held her hand high and blessed us. Unabashadely, unequivocally, she invited to see the end of this service as the beginning, the opportunity to pass on that same love and passion for the world in this next chapter of our day, our week, our very lives.
Now, I don’t intend to write this in order to persuade you that the solution to world hunger or the dying mainline church is to get more people to go to chapel. There will be days when the chapel will be full, and days when it will be empty. Through Christ, God still dwells among us and empowers us to act and be faithful stewards of our time, gifts and passions from our heart, from our gut.
I was overwhelming filled the thought “Something is happening here.” Something is happening here, even though I can’t put my finger on it. This year is different. This year isn’t full of checking off lists, powering through thesis drafts, ticking off the box “joining my parents in holding a Master’s degree” (even though those things hold deep meaning for me in their own ways). This year I think God is inviting me to see an ending of an academic degree as an opportunity, an absolutely wild beginning of learning about myself and the world in new ways that are completely out of my box and unfamiliar to me.
i have a feeling I’m going to realize this, with break-downs/low points alternating, multiple times this year and it’s going to drive you, and my spouse, crazy. But that’s who I am. Also, the visual learner in me LOVES this pin from Pinterest I found quoting Maya Angelou about change:
So I leave you with this as you see today’s endings in light of today’s beginnings:
May the Lord bless you and keep you – yes, you – May the Lord’s face shine upon you and be gracious unto you – May the Lord look upon you with favor, and give you peace.
P.S. I can’t think about benedictions and not think of Holden Village. But that’s another story.