Saturday, November 10, 2012

Trying to spin a web

I should be exegeting right now.  Exodus isn't going to exegete itself.  Or I should be writing a sermon for Tuesday's class.  But a quick moment to update some things seems in order, since it's been a while.

This past week was my first full week off of the radiation/chemo regime.  Oddly, in some ways it was a harder week than most of those past (I'll spare you the details), but I got through it.  An odd swelling in my general cheek/jaw area made the week a bit of a pain (and was painful enough to miss class Tuesday, the first time that's happened for anything other than doctor's appointments or procedures--but you better believe I got out of bed and voted), and my system inside seemed strangely to miss the regime.  Still I got through the week o.k.

I also took my turn as a student representative to Union's Board of Trustees.  I'm obviously not going to divulge deep dark secrets about the seminary (for one thing, they go into executive session to talk about those, meaning I wasn't present for that), but it was fairly illuminating both in procedure and substance. I was also reminded that all through my career in academia I never did attend such meetings; the last time I did was the last time I was in seminary, a much less pleasant experience with a much more bitter and hateful cast to it, rather like most election discourse these days.

This was nothing like that, thankfully, and was among other things useful at helping remedy one of my great deficiencies in this entry into Presbyworld.  I have some definite talents for this fool's errand.  I have some shortcomings, too, but none that can't either be overcome, worked around, or used as a means of learning.  But one shortcoming that was particularly troubling, and one I couldn't simply write off or make better on my own, was one that I also recall having to work at in my previous career.  I don't have a lot of contacts, or to put it another way, I just don't know that many people.

In many ways PC(USA) is a small enough denomination that, once you decide to pursue a pastoral vocation or at least enter seminary, having or making contacts becomes rather a big deal, pretty much like any other vocation on the planet.  In musicology I had to learn that in order to do such things, you had to "put yourself out there"; attend academic conferences, make presentations on your research at those conferences, get things published, and so on.  I did plenty of that as a graduate student, gradually increased my "network" of contacts in the field, and over time managed a relatively decent mini-career that actually got me to a school and position I could have happily continued for the rest of my life if this pestilent calling thing hadn't gotten in the way (that was a joke, people).

Entering seminary and a new vocational path, I wasn't all that clear on how to spin a new web of contacts on this new path.  Sure I have some connections from past churches; I used those quite extensively in choosing a school, and will continue to do so in the future, but I haven't been to that many churches in my past.  As far as I know there isn't quite the same opportunity for conference networking as I employed in the past, and some of the opportunities that do exist are difficult to do on student income or schedule.  So, finding creative ways to meet people has become one of the major secondary challenges of my current situation (behind, you know, going to school, trying to get some church experience, fighting cancer, all that stuff...), and this short-term experience with the Board of Trustees may well help with that.

So, yet another part of this long strange trip reveals itself.  I learned new things, I met good people, and I might have found some help along the way.  Not a bad thing.

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