Thursday, April 21, 2005

the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time

I have been on the Duke Divinity School campus this week, for the most part. At mid-week I did make my way back to Charlotte for Abby's induction into the National Honor Society (Congratulations, ABBY!!!!), and afterwards we went out with some friends to the Olive Garden, a place I haven't been to in years. I had forgotten how excellent their salads are. We had a very outgoing waiter, who told us a great deal about his life, and was very efficient. We tipped him appropriately and generously. At the end of the evening he shared with us that he was moving to Orlando, where he has a small business related to weekend gun shows. At that point it did cross my mind that I would like to have withdrawn a portion of the tip...but that would not have been gracious or fair.

Meanwhile, I have mostly situated myself in the Divinity School library, tracking down things related to summer and fall sermons and a book I'm writing for the Upper Room related to intercession. I realize that i have become more extraverted over time (if you go with the MBTI theories), in that I am ready to be home, ready to be around people. I have also attended one lecture, an evening Taize prayer service, a morning prayer service directly from the Book of Common Prayer, and had structured conversations with three extraordinary professors (Richard Hays, Ellen Davis, and Geoffrey Wainwright). In particular, I have been reading a remarkable essay on prophetic intercession, written by a Jewish theologian named Yochanan Muffs. I will comment on some of the contents at a later time.

It turns out that Geoffrey Wainwright was interviewed the next day for Nightline, as he is a friend of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. I had hoped my Catholic brothers would turn toward Africa or Latin America, but that's another story...

Another real bonus has been that Liz, our older daughter, is only ten minutes from the hotel. We had dessert one night, dinner another night, and may hit Franklin Street again before I leave town (college students enjoy the evening meal between the hours of 8 and 10 p.m.). She had heard Paul Begala, of President Clinton and Crossfire fame, speak on Monday evening, and next week will hear Billy Collins, the former poet laureate of the United States, give a reading on Tuesday evening. She loves UNC, and as a parent said, on the bus at family weekend last fall, "what's not to love"?

It has been 22 years since I graduated from the Divinity School. I feel very fortunate for the ministry I have been able to share, and trace much of the opportunity back to the preparation here. A few of the professors are still around; most have departed this life (Stuart Henry, Tom Langford, Robert Cushman, Frank Young). Others have moved on to other places: Will Willimon is Bishop in Birmingham; Bob Gregg is at Stanford. An amazing group remains however. It really is an incredible school. It does feel like being home, here, for a brief time, and yet it doesn't. It was definitely the right place, for me, at the right time.


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