Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Last First

Approximately 27 seconds after awakening this morning, I realized that this was a very important day: my last first day of school EVER. I proceeded to smile broadly, pump my fists in the air, and whisper an excited chant: "school! school! school!" Yes, I am an incredibly nerdy third-grader at heart. I love school. I love classes and books and new pens, listening to lectures and asking questions. I like that my life's explicitly stated goal right now is to think deeply and seriously about the big questions of life and death and god and suffering.

And, after a long, empty summer, those questions resurfaced quickly and piercingly.

At 8 a.m., a short, fat, former monk asked me, what does it mean for a text to be religious?

Then, at 10, a west African's lilting english echoed my thoughts: how is pastoral care any different from the care we give each other every day?

A bouncy Nazarene with piercing blue eyes kept me awake after lunch by insisting that Qohelet's questions of futility and vanity, sorrow and despair are not dismissable.

And for three hours, a brusque Jewish woman with dangling earrings kept me engaged in the far-from-stale story of Genesis, asking once more the queries of the rabbis and their midrash: what is this relationship that God keeps attempting to instigate and sustain with us humans?

Answers are fleeting, but "the right questions can keep us company our whole lives long."

3 comments:

Nicole said...

Judaism totally rocked. I can't wait for the rest of the semester!

dave scott said...

Deborah Lipstadt is a trip.

During one class last semester, she had a panel of Rabbis come in to discuss the differences between the denominations of Judaism. The Reformed rabbi had the following to say:

"There are very few Jewish American heroes. But Deborah Lipstadt is one of them, and that is why we are all here today."

You will learn. You will enjoy yourself. And, unless she has dramatically altered the syllabus, you will make an easy "A".

Erin said...

If you can get LTJ to jump up on a table, you have scored serious points with me! He told me that some traditions need to die.

I told him "Not that one."
But alas, I never got to witness the feat of a short, fat, former Monk landing on a table in a single bound.