Monday, August 27, 2007

Lizard Eater IS a sign

So, I had my divinity school orientation on Friday. Early on, they decide to go around the room and have us all introduce ourselves. Name, denomination, and the relationship your denomination has with Christ. (No jokes on the last, it's just too freakin' easy.)

I am the first person to speak, and it turns out, the last person to describe my religion. Everyone else just names it -- Baptist. AME. Non-denominational.

Well, even though I am not normally a fan of the elevator speech, here it was needed, and glad I was to have one. Hi I'm LE I'm sure I represent the most liberal denomination here I'm Unitarian Universalist and we believe in encouraging people to find their own path and live by the highest ethical standards. take a breath. Whew. (Do I think this is the most eloquent elevator speech? Of course not. But you tailor your message to the audience.)

So, then, the fellow on my left introduces himself. Hi I'm Joe Blow and The Baptist Fathers Would Be Shocked to See Me Sitting Next to a Unitarian.

No, really, that's what he said. It wasn't anything I didn't expect, so I inwardly just rolled my eyes.

But I had it all wrong.

He and I talked afterwards. He had been going to a very conservative school and didn't like it. "They prayed all the time! They'd start a class with a prayer for George Bush!" I squelched the impulse to remark that if anyone needed praying for, it was Bush. I instead commiserated -- I don't like it when any side mixes politics and religion.

We chatted a bit more and then he said ... "The fact that I wound up sitting right next to you. I think it's a sign from God. I do."

He didn't elaborate. He seemed pleased with the sign, though, not running and screaming. So maybe, somehow, my presence told him that he was right where he should be.

That's cool.


Anonymous said...

What divinity school are you attending?

fausto said...

Smile. Maybe he's a sign from God for you, too. Who was it who said, "The Lord works in mysterious ways"?

Earthbound Spirit said...

Best to you on diving into seminary again. Two years ago I went through orientation - information and sharing by day, watching Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath unfold on the TV at the pub by night.

Anonymous said...

But Jacqueline, if LE told us which seminary she attends, we'll know where she lives, and maybe who she is.

(Actually, I think I figured out who she is already, but I ain't tellin.' LE, if you're curious, I'm a UU minister serving a church in the same "cluster" as your home church. If you want to know who I am, e-mail & I'll gladly tell you.)

Suffice to say, if she's going to the seminary I think she is, she's attending one of the more conservative ones that can still tolerate UU students.

LE, I went to a non-UU seminary also. At my orientation, I met the person who became my best friend at that school. She was politically liberal, but with a fairly orthodox theology. Around mid-terms our first semester, she told me that she felt God had placed me in her life to help open her mind to other theological views. By the time we graduated five years later,* she had changed denominations (not to UU, but more liberal), and was almost as far to the left theologically as I am.

*I promise it can be done quicker than this, but life got in the way for both of us...which you are all too familiar with.

I hope you get to stay in relationship with this Baptist guy who sat next to you; he may need some education about us, but I bet he turns out to be a good friend to you, even if he doesn't become a religious liberal.

David Oliver Kling said...

Nice story. Thanks for posting it!

Kristine Kay Johnson said...

It *is* a sign. Hope all goes well this fall. I've been enjoying your blog.

Nancy said...

What a cool are opening up some minds in your own personal spiritual quest.

Wishing you continued success and strength! I am in awe of you!