Reading Days (this week, general update, and a photo bonus!)

Yesterday and today are Reading Days here at Wartburg Seminary. These days are also known as Reading and Research days or Reading and Research days, but no matter what you call the two days each semester when classes are not held the students welcome these days with a great sigh of relief. In addition to catching up on our reading, research and other homework, we also tend to catch up on sleep and other forms of relaxation!

Nessa playing near our home in October 2011

Nessa playing in the sandbox across from our home

All of us (first-year students / Juniors) have been adjusting to being seminary students at various levels, and for many of us this includes having to admit that we simply cannot read everything that has been assigned to us. The sooner we admit this, and relax into it, the sooner we can start setting our priorities, and hopefully lower our stress levels. However, for many of us this continues to be a challenge no matter how many times we are told that it simply cannot be done — or at least not while also having any sort of life. Since my family alone qualifies as a life, and my circumstances of commuting adds to the time away from my studies … yeah, I have had to learn to prioritize and skim heavily! 

One of the things I enjoyed most about the last couple of days was that I was able to read entire books from start to finish — assigned books and sometimes skimming, but I read them all in a sitting instead of going back and forth between books and reading the minimum due for class the next day. Focusing on one book at a time is certainly my favorite way of reading!

Of course I had to do more than read. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was part of a drafting group that needed to complete our Justice and Justification paper. It was an interesting experience working as a group to attempt to define these terms! As usual, we did not really have the time we wanted or needed to devote to the project, and yet we learned a great deal from the process.

The learning continues at an exhausting pace with little time to process everything. I have many many ideas I hope to share here in the future, and yet prioritizing my time usually leaves blog posts unwritten. Short answers to any questions you (friends, family, congregation members, or random readers) have about my experiences can be answered very quickly however, so please ask.

It seems that each week my classmates and I are changing our minds about our various classes so I am not going to make any overall statements about favorite or most meaningful classes until the end of the semester. We had our first big test last Thursday (still waiting for results), and watching individual and group dynamics was interesting. While studying for the test I learned how I could likely better prepare for the next test. I also learned that, unlike while completing my undergrad work, it wasn’t all about the test grade for me. Throughout this process I want to stay focused on my future ministry as well as keeping my priorities straight by no neglecting my family in order to study for a test (or write blog posts). However, there will always be times when the priority is unclear — just like life. We do the best we can, and make the best decision we can with the information we have at the time.