Whether you’re just starting your journey here at Wake Div or you’re a returning student, if you’re like me you’ve been struggling with carrying the weight of spiritual heaviness both in the classroom and outside the doors of Wingate Hall. For those of us who are new, either we’ve never had to carry this weight before or it’s a different kind of weight that requires a nuanced form of training. If we’re returning, we’re having to relearn how to lift these weights.
As agents of justice, compassion, and reconciliation, the burdens of our call to this ministry (in whatever shape or form it takes) are not easy. We’re challenged by not only our professors, but our peers as well. And with each advance, it can sometimes feel like we’re moving backwards. The weight becomes heavier and heavier, and we feel ill-equipped to carry it in the first place.
This week at my internship at Greensboro Urban Ministry (GUM), I was tasked with reading over and praying over the prayer requests deposited in the box located in the lobby of the emergency assistance building. For those of you who aren’t familiar with GUM, it’s a Christian organization that assists individuals in poverty with housing, emergency food supply, financial assistance, spiritual guidance, and so much more.
The prayer requests I read, all held in confidentiality, were some of the most humbling things I had ever read in my life.
As my day went on, I could feel the heaviness of each prayer request weighing on my heart. My initial reaction was one of frustration—this isn’t my first year in div school. I’ve carried heavy weight like this before. So why did it seem so much heavier today?
I’ve said so often that the more I learn here at Wake Div, the more I realize how little I know. I’m convinced that there are going to be many times in this journey where I’ll feel more than equipped to handle a situation or an internship placement, only to find that I have no idea what I’m doing. Oddly enough, however, I find comfort in this not-knowing.
“But [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” reads 2 Cor 12:9. This concept of grace is so full of hope for us, especially as divinity students here at Wake. I’m so glad we don’t have all the answers—if we did, then there would be no reason to wonder about God or even to be here in the first place. We can find comfort in knowing that although we don’t possess the answers to everything right now, a Being much more capable holds them (and us) in the palm of His/Her hand.
Rainer Maria Rilke encourages us to “live the questions.” Our not-knowing and our inability to carry heavy things on our own isn’t a reflection on us but on God’s power and grace in our lives. Through studying God, we learn how to live in a perpetual state of discovery, full of wonder and admiration for both the things we cannot see and the things we can. Through carrying the heavy weights we encounter during this time, we can take comfort in knowing that we’re not carrying these alone. Whatever your religious tradition may be, we can find strength and hope in this not-knowing and in the spiritual heaviness.
After all, Wake Div is a place of community, right?