Wednesday, November 14, 2007


I know I've been quite naughty having not written yet about my GTU visit or, well, anything for a week or so. But if you knew everything that is going on in my life, beyond the school stuff, you'd give me a pass. I'm one crazy chick right now. I think I've got the stress under control, although Monday I believe I officially had my first panic attack. That was all kinds of fun. I got myself enrolled in some yoga pretty quick. But here's the funny thing - it happened while I was doing a guided meditation. Leave it to me to turn the stress reliever into a liability.

Anyway I seem to be OK now although that episode did take some recovery time. I was surprised at how shaken and physically disturbed I was for the rest of the day and into the next day even. It was a powerful event. And there are additional reasons, as always, for my body to not handle stress well - including our old friends the chemical misfirings. So I get to go back to the P-sychiatrist too. Fun.

OK, so I should tell you about GTU. They ran me ragged, I have to say - all over that hilly town. And then, when the time came when I could have taken a nap, what did I do? I walked to Cal just to wander around. Got me some fair trade coffee at Brewed Awakening and then gawked at the campus. Man, it's gorgeous. What a place. The whole town had such a cool vibe. And as I walked around I thought, I can't let J see this place until I've decided we're really moving here, if we are moving here, because if he visits he will never want to leave. It's so us. It's that trees-and-phds and bohemian-activist-hipster combo. Plus lots of people our age, lots of Episcopalians, lots of little babies and their cool parents walking the hills. And damn, lots of hills. That place is hilly. So that's the general neighborhood - love it.

But let's talk academics, schools, faculty. I met a lot of 'em - actually almost the whole lit studies core. They set me up good - kudos to admissions. And the first meeting was a little shaky, but I was interested in the prof and he seemed to like sharing with me. By the next meeting, though, I'd bagged my first person (a history prof) who said he'd be interested in studying the food stuff with me (he looks at Jewish and Christian ritual and said the food aspect would be of interest). Then I got to talk to Tom Scirghi at the Jesuit School, and we had a fine old time. He has all the same questions and ideas as me about food and liturgy, about how Eucharist could be teaching us how to eat, about how what we eat affects us spiritually, all that stuff I go on about on here. So I was super excited after chatting with him.

Then I did my walking tour of the campus and town, and tried to rest, but by then I have to admit I was pretty darn excited and it was hard to nap. I nearly did, though, and almost missed my next appt...

Which was the CDSP Eucharist. They did a light/darkness theme b/c it was the first time they'd met after daylight savings ended so it was in the dark. They sang many of my favorite hymns, and the preacher was good. The liturgy was very nice and planned (and executed) by the students. And they had the best communion bread I've ever tasted. I found out that the students bake it, too. Good symbol.

So I really enjoyed the liturgy, then after there was dinner and I sat with Louis Weil and Father Thomas from a local priory affiliated with the same brotherhood as Mt. Calvary in Santa Barbara. Apparently they've lost the priory and he and his brothers are all moving to Mt. Calvary. I hope I can visit him there. I really enjoyed his company. And I got to listen to great stories with the two of them talking about their long lives in service to the church. What history.

I had a nice room at the Franciscan School where I slept quite well. The next morning I had breakfast w/the CDSP students and we talked about their school and Fuller and Anglican politics and all the usual. I liked them. It seemed a nice community. So small, too! After being at Fuller it's wild to see the whole school fitting in one room for dinner!

So that day I got to visit Louis's liturgy class, a master's-level class. He was talking about penance, so that was interesting because it's not something that's been covered in my Fuller liturgy classes at all. I knew most of the historical stuff he talked about, thanks to John Thompson, but then it was interesting to hear his take on the Anglican contribution to the practice (sacrament), and to get the resources he suggested. The class was quite lively, and quite interested in the practical side of the rite. That's good, I suppose, seeing as how they're all priests-in-training.

Oh, that reminds me, that one of the things that I really seemed to connect with the faculty over was my pastoral concern with liturgy - that is, I enjoy studying it, but I don't think it fulfills its purpose until it becomes practical, until it goes into the church and is used. So any recommendations or ideas that germinate in the academy must be tested in the church, and that means that the church - the people whose work the liturgy is - is always in our minds as we are doing the study. Fortunately, I found this to be a common understanding. Also, people would just light up when I talked about my interfaith work. Gotta remember to put that in the personal statement.

So after class I talked to Louis for just a few minutes (at which time he informed me, among other things, that he has 13,000 books. Nice) and then I was off to wander around the Pacific School of Religion (interesting museum exhibit on the daily life of women in ancient near east - including their food preparation/serving implements) and meet with a prof there. She had just published a book on Eucharist as Resurrection Meal, and I hadn't been able to find anything about it (it was published like that week), so I got to hear her take. She also, it turned out, had most of the same theological and practical questions as I do about the meal, and she adds an eschatological significance to the physicality of the whole thing (we are going to be resurrected bodies, you see, not just souls, so there is something vital about the physical act of eating in Eucharist and about the Body of Christ that we become in doing so). We had a fine chat. I really enjoyed her, and I had by then racked up three profs who were into the food thing with me. Nice.

Then I got to have lunch with a current liturgical studies phd student, and that was wonderful. I got to pepper her with my most important questions (e.g. how do you pay for this??) and since she'd come from more conservative Midwestern stock as I have, we talked about how that fits in at GTU. She made the school that much more attractive. She got me thinking, aw, hell, it's only money! What's another several grand in student loans! (yes, later I thought well I could have another degree or I could have a house someday...that's something to ponder) But she was delightful and honest also about the difficulties there. I got to ask her about the prof's personalities and so forth, which I know is important, and I was reassured. They seem like a really great group, the whole place is very collegial.

My last meeting was with a prof who has had some question in the past about the preparation Fuller students receive and whether we can handle GTU. It turns out that Fuller just uses a different nomenclature for its degrees and programs than they do, so once I explained to her the academic rigor of my degree and the way I'd basically pursued a minor in liturgy by pushing myself into the classes I wanted, she was totally cool. I may have done my Fuller colleagues a favor, at least there. Somehow we have to get the word out to the rest of the academy (or those people who are suspicious, at least) that the Fuller MDiv is just as rigorous as their MA, and that we call liturgical studies "worship" studies, and stuff like that. I don't know if it's an Evangelical thing or what. But we got it cleared up. So then I had a great time with her, chatting and laughing a lot. She was tons of fun, and I heard all these fun stories about Notre Dame and Robert Webber and all kinds of mutual interests and persons.

In the end, every person I talked to said they'd hoped I'd apply. I take that to be a good sign. Of course, getting in is just the first hurdle - there's also the money issue and the housing issue and the moving issue and the getting-J-a-job issue. But we'll take things one at a time. I will definitely apply and I think if I wound up there I'd fit the community very well. I really enjoyed my time there and I was excited about the people I'd work with. I think that's all really good stuff.

oh, but time has gotten away from me, and my present school duties call out as well. So I'm off.


Unknown said...

I just read my husband the part about getting the panic attack while doing the guided meditation, and his response was, "That's not unusual, actually."

He says, "You let down your defenses, and all the anxiety you've been piling up for years breaks out." My husband knows because he has panic attacks.

Stasi said...

Yes, I really think that meditation, kind of like hypnosis, is something to be careful about if you have untapped anxiety or unresolved subconscious issues. Whenever I do it I find there is a lot inside that is tapped into, and maybe I'd rather not go there. One day it would be healthy, I know, to purge all this, but I only have limited times when it's possible to really dig in there.

It reminds me that one of my mentors told me of a deeply spiritual and academic person he knew, who would go on retreat, and for the first couple days, he couldn't journal or anything - he'd just cry. That's usually what happens to me when I'm in a situation like that. There's just so much detoxing that has to happen first. So I'm going to be careful about the times I choose to use the meditation - and probably not before exams anymore!

Marshall Scott said...

Sounds, Beloved, like a blessed time. Maybe even a call....

Br. Tom is a dear friend and spiritual director to me. I regret myself that they're having to leave Berkeley; but he told me he hopes to be back at least once a month to continue his spiritual direction with CDSP students. I bet you could get in on that, too, if you were there.