One must carry quite a few life skills in their quiver in order to make it through discernment, seminary, and ordination in The Episcopal Church. You’ve got to be smart. You’ve got to have deep, deep, deep faith in the God who has called you. You’ve got to be skilled in the art of listening. Perhaps more than anything else, you’ve got have a sense of humor. Without the ability to laugh at yourself and the absurdities of the Church, seminary is likely to suck out of you every bit of joy, leaving a grumpy, life sapping, shell of human being where a talented priest might have been. Part of my plan for surviving seminary was surrounding myself with smart, faithful, and funny people; many of whom graduated in the class ahead of me in 2006.
Towards the end of their time at VTS, the members of the class of 2006 began to discuss their class gift. Among the nominees was a soft-serve ice cream machine for the refectory that played a midi of “Taste and See” as it dispensed frozen goodness.
As I sit in the Hardman Conference Room at Beckwith Camp and Retreat Center procrastinating the second half of my thesis and reading the lessons appointed for Sunday, I can’t help but stop at the end of Psalm 34, chuckle and remember fondly the good times that seminary afforded me. I also can’t help but give thanks for the many ways in which God is made manifest in our lives.
The Pslamist invites us to “taste and see that the Lord is good,” but we need not stop there. We can hear the goodness of the Lord, as Paul tells us, in words that are meant to build up and encourage. We can feel the goodness of the Lord in a handshake or a hug at the Passing of the Peace as we are each reminded that being a Christian means being a part of a community, family, the Body of Christ. We can smell the goodness of the Lord in the simmering of spaghetti sauce cooked for homeless guests staying on campus with Family Promise.
The Lord shows himself to be good in many and varied ways, and often through the work he has called each of us to do. Today I’m grateful for the reminder to take time each day to taste and see, hear and feel and smell the goodness of the Lord in and through the good people who God has placed around me.