The blog post is to let those of you NOT a part of the Wartburg community know a little bit of what is going on here this week.
The first week of the fall semester at Wartburg consists of something called Prolog week. Prolog week is the four days after Labor Day, so 4 days of classes and assignments that constitute a 1-credit class. All first-year students (referred to as Juniors as part of the M.Div track) take IN100W: Theology in Context. This means that Shawn and I are both in this class together. We are, thankfully, in different small groups (and will be for other classes we share this year, which is most of them).
While I find this week to be a very intense one I am finding the lectures, field exercises and experiences very interesting.
Tuesday after both a large group plenary session focussed on defining religion and a small group focussed on religious reflection, as well as sharing about ourselves and how we ended up at Seminary, we went out into the Dubuque community on a “walkabout” to get to know the culuture that surrounds us. We also were able to practice being an active observer. Later we combined our observations with reflections on our assigned readings and the morning lectures to write our first seminary paper (only 2 pages).
Tuesday night was interesting in our home because it was our first experience balancing everyone’s needs. In addition to Shawn and I both needing time to write our respective papers and complete our readings for the next day, we of course still had to oversee Nessa’s homework, fix supper (kind of) clean-up and hopefully get Nessa peacefully asleep. I think it was actually harder than it will often be simply because we could not really plan ahead with this assignement, but instead we both had to complete it pretty much at the same time. It was interesting.
This week has also reminded me (and Shawn) of how fragile my health still is at times. Because of circumstance I’m going longer than I would like between acupuncture apointments, and between that and simply the way my body can react to stress (good or bad), and the fact that something I am eating or otherwise exposed to seems to have bothered me this week (I haven’t figured out what yet), made me feel sick and exhausted by Tuesday afternoon (both with acute sore throat, etc. and my pain reaction in my leg and knee). I used the tools at my disposal to help with it, but could not simply rest like I would have otherwise. I ask anyone reading this to send prayers for me to maintain my health as much as possible! (As of Thursday I’m feeling much better, but not 100%.)
Wednesday was similiar, but our field activity took us out into Dubuque area churches. We split up into three different groups and each visited an assigned downtown church to interview them in order to observe and hopefully identify their congregational identity. My small group went to St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Dubuque, and spent two hours there with thier passionate pastor. Afterwards we met briefly to organize our report on the experience that each group had to present the next day.
Wednesday night there was no homework, but there was our Convocation on Life Together. I find it interesting that during this event, which reviewed and reflected on how we live together as a community, was when I was so thankful for this community. A new friend and neighbor (a middler spouse so not required to attend the convocation) watched Nessa for us while Shawn and I both attended the event. She’ll tell you that it was the easiest thing she’s done since Nessa just played at the community playground the entire time, but it was HUGE for us to be able to comfortably leave Nessa for the hour without disturbing her schedule really at all since what Nessa wanted to do was play outside on the gorgeous evening. We also have huge shout-outs of thanks to those that have been taking Nessa to and from school this week!!! (No bussing here!) Our fall schedule starting next week will allow us to take Nessa to and from school most days ourselves as needed (or to drive a car pool), but not this week! So, while this post isn’t written for the Wartburg community, any of them reading this anyway should know how much we appreciate them. And the rest of you should send of prayers of thanks for these wonderful people that make the community so special!
Today we continued the pattern of lectures and activities by interviewing one of our classmates concerning their theological experiences. And then we write a paper on the interview (and readings of course). I can’t quite put that in the past tense yet, because my paper is still waiting for a final edit before sending it off to the professor.
Tomorrow includes a similiar pattern of small group and lecture time for the first half of the day. However, the afternoon is filled with other activities. Shawn and I both plan on trying a ropes course for the first time! Later we have the Wartburg community picnic to attend, and I am sure there will be lots of informal fellowship throughout the weekend.
That’s probably more than anybody except our mothers want to know about what we did this week!
Next week I’ll give an overview of my courses in general, and then throughout the semester share more in-depth as I am able to. So far I have appreciated the sharing, the dialouge, and the welcoming of theology as questions because the questions keep coming!
Love and belief,