I’ve been in Berkeley, California since Wednesday to attend my first Starr King School for the Ministry Board meeting. Well, the first one as a board member. I went to a few in my student days. It feels a bit strange, though not necessarily negatively so, to be back but sitting at the table as a member of the Board of Trustees.
I don’t know if any of you have had the experience of returning to a place that was central to your life and the site of meaningful formation, transition, and change, but I approached it with some anxiety. Because of sabbaticals, illness, and other complicating factors, there are only two people currently in residence at Starr King who were there when I was a student. I was nervous because with all the changes, I was afraid of a couple of things: first, that I hadn’t really fallen in love with the institution, but with the people in it. And second, that there would no longer be a place for me there.
Both my anxieties proved to be unfounded. Even with almost an entirely new “cast of characters,” Starr King is still the school I love. The commitments are not identitical, but are logical extensions of the pedagogy, values, and philosophy I knew when I was a student at the school. The faculty, staff, and students still work with incredible determination and passion to create a community of learning and justice. The people engage in deep conversations, seek out learning, and do not shirk from doing the personal growth that needs to be done. They also laugh a lot and a spirit of joy and fun bubbles to the surface again and again. And just like when I was a student, there are challenges to be met and overcome.
And, though so much has changed, it was clear that there is still a place for me. And as long as I am willing to commit, work, engage, seek, grow, and laugh…there always will be.