As my summer comes to a close, I pause. This was my last undergraduate summer, the last one that came with the security of knowing exactly what I’ll be doing in the fall. This was the last summer where the words “unpaid internship” stung only slightly, but held the promise of exciting new experiences. This summer was my last chance to prepare myself for what I’m going to be faced with in May of 2013: graduation and the real world.
In light of moving onward and upward through my last year of college at The University of Virginia, I thought that the best topic for today’s post might be the lessons I’ve learned this summer. Isn’t that what they say, write about what you know? I understand good and well that I’m dating myself with this post. I write as a 21 year old enthusiastic about faith, politics, social justice, the next generation of clergy, and finding a dynamic spiritual community.
Here it goes:
1. Go to where you want to be. For the most part, I spent my summer in Washington D.C. as an intern for the Eleison Group. I’ve said for years that I could see myself living and working and that city, so it was only necessary that I test it out. It turns out that yes, I do like the city, the culture, and sometimes I even like the politics! From lunch meetings to lectures to finding myself occasionally standing in front of the Capitol thinking, “Wow, here I am!” it was an amazing experience.
2. God is doing great things with the next generation of clergy. In June, I attended a Future Leaders in Ministry Conference sponsored by the Fund for Theological Education. I applied for a grant from the organization when I knew very little about what they did or believed. I’m ashamed to say it was one of those “throw everything at the wall and see what sticks” kind of moves, but God must have been working God’s magic, because it was one of the most inspiring experiences I’ve ever had. I arrived unsure of what to expect – what I got was a room full of 70 young, vibrant, faithful, compassionate (I could go on) 20-somethings who are called to ministry in one form or another.
3. Reach out to your community near and far. I ended my summer with a road trip of sorts. We managed to make our way from Boston to Maine to Upstate New York to Delaware, meeting up with loving friends and family at every stop. In Delaware, we had planned to stay with my friend’s Aunt and Uncle. When plans fell through at the last minute, were were worried we’d have to spring for a hotel room. In a pinch, Grace contacted a Priest she met at an Episcopal Youth Convention who happens to live in the same sleepy little Delaware Beach Town. Even though Kitt, the Priest, already had someone staying with her, she generously opened up her home to us and we never felt like an inconvenience. “All we need is the floor,” we told her. In the end, we got much better than the floor and a couple glasses of wine to boot! Kitt and her partner Sandy were the most generous hosts, and they hadn’t ever met me! Before we left, she gave us a stack full of books on theology, ministry, and I got my first copy of the Book of Common Prayer. In today’s world, we all walk around trying not to inconvenience others, but amazing community is created when you allow someone to lend you a hand (or a futon).
4. Remain faithful. Ha, here’s where the politics comes in. Faith and Politics – the two things you aren’t supposed to talk about at the dinner table. Somehow they ALWAYS get mentioned at my dinner table, but I know that things can get heated, even ugly. In times of tension, I learned this summer that it’s best to put your faith first, then let your politics follow.
How does all of this relate to Faithful Democrats? It means that we keep moving, keep championing the causes we believe in. More than ever, it is clear to me that my peers and I will need to work together as the next generation of clergy and secular workforce. We need to seek out community in likely and unlikely places. And above all, we must remain faithful… Because folks, this election doesn’t look like it’s about to get any nicer.