When I was a first year student, I used to go to the communion that the MDiv students hold in the chapel every Wednesday and I would cry. The school and the move from California to Seattle had cracked open something deep inside me and I could not stop crying everywhere I went. My advisers at The Seattle School counseled me that there was truth in my grief if I could be brave enough to keep crying, keep feeling, and keep wading through it.
I am now a fourth year student. I no longer cry as much. I have bled out much of my grief, and what remains I have tempered into my very being—a deep core within myself that I know to be strong and true.
Last term on Wednesdays I arrived at the building to attend Case Conference. Have you ever attended a case conference? They are all different, but mine goes something like this: someone presents a case from their internship that is going particularly messy, we talk about it, then we take a break, after which someone else presents a case. During the break between the presentations, I walk two doors down to the chapel and take pictures with my phone.
I’ve learned that the process of creating comforts me. Creation is grounding because only I see what I see. If you were here and you had a camera, you would take a different picture. After all, as therapists, priests, and artists, all we have to offer each other is ourselves. I don’t see what you see and you don’t see what I see. Case conference always makes me feel feelings about the way I see that others don’t. Taking a picture and naming what I see as me helps reconnect me with the goodness at the root of myself.
Three years ago I took pictures of our chapel and published them on this blog. The pictures I show you today are very different than those ones. These are weirder, better, and changed. The reason is because I am different than I was three years ago. I have learned invaluable skills as a photographer, person, and therapist. I have learned to know myself clearly and with less fear, in a way I never thought possible.
But it’s more than that; I am changed.
This school does that. Being cracked open does that. It changes us.