I’ve intended to start a blog for a long time, at least since I was preparing to enter seminary a couple of years ago. For various reasons the practice never stuck. Like daily prayer, regular blogging is easily derailed by the petty anxieties of the present moment.
Now, though, I find myself thousands of miles from home (the western U.S.), adjusting to life in northern England for a semester at College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, and I realized I owed it to myself (and anyone else with a passing interest) to document the experience. So here we are.
Mirfield is, in a word, singular. It is the only seminary in the entire Anglican Communion (the worldwide body of churches that includes, among many others, both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church) that is adjacent to and deeply intertwined with a monastic community. The students and the monks pray at multiple short services per day, sometimes together and sometimes separately, and an interdependent communal life is emphasized, required, and celebrated.
I came to Mirfield after a year and a half at my own seminary, Church Divinity School of the Pacific, because I was yearning for a deep spiritual formation that a monastic setting might provide. In addition, I was drawn to Mirfield’s Anglo-Catholic traditions (more on that in another post, perhaps) and saw that aspect as a helpful counterpoint to my experiences in parishes back home.
There is much uncertainty that I am carrying with me on this journey to England, in nearly every aspect of my life. My hope is that this will be a space where I can 1) describe some of the interesting aspects of my time in England (and there are many already!) and 2) do some written spiritual reflection that illuminates my formation. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get in the habit of blogging and keep it up after I go home in June!
If you are reading this, whether we know each other in person or not, take away two things about me. First, I am a gay man who wrestled with the intersection of my faith and my sexual orientation for many years, and I am still discovering what it means to believe that God loves me exactly as I am. Second, studying for the priesthood has shown me that we never “get there” to a place where we are 100% sure of ourselves and rest in some doubtless bliss where faith is easy. There are no experts in holiness, only fellow travelers. I fret and struggle and mess up. All. The. Time. And yet somehow God doesn’t count me out. God hasn’t counted you out, either. Promise.
Next time I’ll describe some basics of daily life at Mirfield. Thoughts or questions or prayer requests? Send me a note in the “About” page.
A week ago, jet lagged from the flight to the UK.
6 thoughts on “First Impressions”
I’m excited to follow this journey with you! Thank you for sharing your experiences and thoughts with us. And, Mary Jones sends you a big hug and “hello”!
Bless you, Sally! Thanks so much for your support; lots of love to you, Mary, and everyone at Christ Church!
Phil! I was just in Reno where Paige and I were talking of you lovingly – what great timing to catch up with your journey! I’ll be peepin’!
Lee! So glad you came to take a look. Holding you in my heart!
Prayers of.peace, calm and confidence to you, Phil… Thanks for sharing this journey!!
Thank you, Mary, your prayers are deeply appreciated!