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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Random Thoughts from a Long Drive

A few minutes ago, it hit me.

This dream is two decades old. I have friends younger than this dream. And here I am.

Today, Bill and I drove across part or all of five states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, and now, Missouri.

At this moment, I am sitting in a guest room at Covenant Theological Seminary. I've dreamed of being here since 1992.

In 1992, I spoke extensively on the phone to a seminary student working in admissions here. His name was Jeremy. I had recently claimed the traditional Christian faith as my own real faith--or, more correctly, it had claimed me. I was on fire and I wanted to pursue a Master's degree in theological studies through Covenant Seminary, mainly because of the Christianity and Contemporary Culture program and the Francis Schaeffer Institute with its influence on worldview and engaging the culture. It has been a passion for me, right up there with the brotherhood of the Church Body, ever since I became a believer. But I just couldn't get here. Money, geography, time, family... there were always obstacles.

But tonight we drove into this lovely city after dark, the Arch rising above everything else from miles out, lit from below so that it didn't seem to be a concrete structure but like two light beams clasping hands with the St. Louis skyline gradually appearing behind it. It was breathtaking. I am here.

Tomorrow and Friday, I will meet with academic advisors, admissions personnel, financial aid. I will get to sit in on four seminary classes and a chapel. Lunch and dinner with staff and students. It's exciting. It's surreal. But I'm here, so it is real. My hope is to begin with just one class, from home, online, in the fall of 2013. And then within a 5-year window, to complete the Master's of Theological Studies in Christianity and the Contemporary Culture. I hope to further expand my knowledge for the writing I currently do for God's World News, and I hope to teach as well--worldview and culture to high schoolers or possibly even college level one day.

So tomorrow it all begins. Tomorrow, I will be serious. Tonight, I am tired of driving and my brain is full of so many random thoughts that occurred along this trip. So, who is up for a little silliness interspersed with some reflections? I feel the need to express. :)

Bill coined a new word on the trip. I think I might submit it to Merriam-Webster. The word is "millimoot." It is insulting in tone, and it means "so minimal in impact that it is only a fraction of what it is to be moot." Proper usage: "Your input was so pointless it is millimoot."

Tennessee is beautiful. Period. Cities and rolling country and mountains. It has it all.

Kentucky is likewise lovely for the most part, but its shining star must be Paducah. We saw signs for Paducah for hours before arriving there. However, I am intrigued by the "Welcome to Paducah" teaser: "Art, Rhythm, and Rivers." Well, hello Paducah. You definitely have my interest. I would like to visit there someday and see if it really is all that.

Kentucky does have its downside though. We saw the rolling hills, the vast fields of tilled soil, the picturesque wineries, and the wildlife--or the wild dead. Kentucky has more roadkill than any other state I've ever been in: deer, coyotes, countless raccoons, even a turkey. Kentucky is the place all fuzzy and feathery things go to die. That was rather depressing. We saw inmates cleaning trash from the roadsides, but apparently roadkill just stays to decompose and return to dust there.

On this trip, I realized just how very much I love bridges. We crossed several major rivers, and while Bill was looking at the water and the boats, I was gasping over the massive wide-flanges, the intricate detail of intersecting supports, the girth of the suspension cables. I love the idea of a bridge--making a way where there wasn't one before. Man taking dominion over the chasm, the floodwaters, the insurmountable gap. Never, never give up. But I realized something else while studying bridges today. I've always known myself to be a bridge in other people's lives. I tend to fill a gap when someone is in transition, and when the transition is over, the person moves on. I am a bridge to help people get from here to there. It's been a lonely role for me. I invest so deeply, and then experience loss so deeply when my loved ones move on. But something is different in my life now. I can say this today. I couldn't say it and believe it a year ago. I have begun to believe that a handful of beloved people in my life really are here to stay. I have begun to believe that these few (these noble, patient, longsuffering few) truly love me back enough to not just see me as a transition on the path to something else. I am gaining confidence that, while I may still be a bridge from time to time, there are now several of you who have linked arms with me, and together we are spanning the chasm of life's challenges and living in the unity of the love of the brotherhood. And that thought, that realization, that even a bridge person can find stable supports with others, is refreshing and satisfying and comforting. Thank you, my faithful friends. Thank you. You know who you are.

Now, back to the more random thoughts:
Have you ever noticed that, when on a long roadtrip, you can ALWAYS find Journey songs on the radio? It's like "they" know somehow that you're traveling, and you need Journey for your journey. And it's usually the really, really old Journey songs too, like "Anyway You Want It," though I did hear "Separate Ways, Worlds Apart" on this trip too.

And I also realized that even with the convenience of cruise control, it is still extremely difficult to do the Thriller dance when confined within the small space of a VW Beetle and traveling at 75 mph. But it was worth a shot.

Happy evening, everyone. More on this trip later.

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