Sunshine and Sentimentality

This past week, as temperatures reached into the 70s, I loved watching how people were drawn outside—stretching hammocks between trees, sprawling on every available patch of grass, tossing a Frisbee with friends between classes, and coming up with any possible excuse to go for a walk. After weeks of solitary morning runs where I could go for miles and only encounter a few other souls crazy enough to run in a snow storm, I was suddenly surrounded by runners, walkers, bikers, and people with their pets enjoying the unexpected preview of spring. I could feel my lungs expanding and my shoulders relaxing every time I stepped outside, relishing the feel of sunshine on my bare arms, tilting my face up to the sky to capture as much vitamin D as possible. Because I spent last semester in Ecuador, it’s been a while since I experienced this transition—of snow and ice turning to sunshine and welcome breezes. I had forgotten how much the warmer weather jars me out of my routine, reminding me to take in my surroundings, to relish the moment, and to look up.

Due to its association with the end of a school year, spring weather like this always sets off some sentimentality on my part and right now, since this is my senior year, it’s hitting a little harder than normal. So indulge me for a minute as I share a little sentimentality about my time at Marsh. Due to the national holiday on Monday, we did not have our normal community dinner followed by our staff meeting. So this morning, when all seven of us interns were at Marsh for Sunday service, it felt like it had been so long since we had seen each other. And in my energetic sun-fueled, overly sentimental state, I felt so at home in their company. We are a crazy, eclectic bunch—Nick quotes theologians and rappers in the same breath, sprinkling metaphors involving math or science into deep, rambling philosophical thoughts. He’s always flying from one thing to another and yet has the time to write 1500 word blog posts. Matt baffles us all with his love of finance and he brings a quiet, indomitable energy to his work, refusing to let anyone take the air out of his sails. Devin speaks poetically from the heart in his blog posts and has fearlessly taken on the task of teaching Marsh Chapel’s gaggle of children everything they need to know about the bible. Tom only joined our ranks this semester and has already found his place among us, bringing a reflective presence and friendly confidence to our little band of Marshians. Denise and I have become great at exchanging sideways glances when the others are getting a little out of hand and her blog posts are beautiful expressions of her exploration of faith and the world, grounded in a strong United Methodist identity. My fellow senior and three-year veteran of the internship program, Ian is our glue, providing a listening ear and quiet wisdom that emerges both in his careful pauses and thoughtful words. He is a walking encyclopedia—able to reference Greek and Roman mythology, explain concepts from biology, neuroscience, linguistics, and philosophy, and analyze Latin etymology of words without breaking a sweat. And then there’s me—I am enthusiastically Lutheran and in my confirmation class growing up I was the know-it-all who made a game of seeing how fast I could find scripture passages in my bible. My major contribution to our cohort is probably sarcasm and raised eyebrows but I do my best to balance it out with a serious and thoughtful presence when I can.

We all bring something valuable to the table, shaped by our own passions and faith backgrounds, each of us trying to figure out where God is calling us to go and what God is calling us to do. There is a lot of laughter and love here and an overabundance of puns and fire emojis. But there is also a willingness to be vulnerable, the freedom to ask questions and learn from each other, and the ability to engage in discussions about God and faith without worrying about judgment or rejection. No matter what else is going on in our lives, we know we have each other’s backs and that energizes my soul more than even the sunniest spring day after a long winter.

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