In-Between

Classroom

Apologies for my long silence.

It’s been a summer of upheaval and dislocation – none of it bad, all of it stressful. Since I last posted anything here, June 14, I have changed both location and vocation: from Duncan, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta; from pastoral ministry to academic work. I traded the Pacific Ocean for the Rockies, the pulpit for the lectern.

I spent the summer in-between: not a pastor anymore, not a professor yet; not from Duncan for long, not in Calgary for a while.

 

Then last week we moved, and I started work. I write this the morning after my first class – a three-hour marathon that I have to repeat 14 more times. I drove home last night both exhausted and grateful. Three hours is a long time to try to hold anyone’s attention. The students were engaging, curious, insightful, and stayed admirably awake. But me? I was reeling.

 

I kept having to remind myself not to preach. Me instinct for that roots deep. I speak a text, and my mind crowds with illustration, application, exhortation – all my pastoral impulses run amok. This isn’t entirely a bad thing in a classroom – after all, students need to be doers of the word, just like the rest of us – but I could see the look of bewilderment on several faces. Should I be writing this down? Will this be on the final exam? Is this related to your last point?

 

It’s going to take me a while to get the rhythm for this. Right now, I’m in-between.

 

Around us, a household slowly emerges from a maze of boxes, thanks mostly to Cheryl’s tireless efforts. The space, inch by inch, gets colonized with our furniture, our pictures, our presence. (My office at work, on the other hand, looks like one of those rooms from a bombed out library in WWII. Alas, my efforts at conquering it are less heroic).

 

Part way through last night’s class, I asked each person to introduce themself, to tell where they were born, and to say what place they now called home. I was last to go.

 

“My name is Mark,” I said. “And I was born in Calgary.” Then I flinched answering the last question. “And what place do I call home?

 

I wanted to say Duncan.

 

With a shock of sadness, I knew it’s not so. Then with a shock of joy, I realized what is so: I’m already here. I’m no longer in-between.

 

I’m home.

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7 thoughts on “In-Between

  1. Great to hear of your update Mark! Ambrose (Canadian Bible College, then) is where Felicia and I met and where I completed my undergrad. Say hi to Bernie VanDeWalle and Ray Aldred and GT Smith for me! We continue to settle in in Ithaca. I am enjoying the ministry – the college students are back so that has been fun.

  2. For some months after I moved when I was asked where I was from, I said “from the West Coast but I currently live in Toronto”. 🙂 Only in the last year have I been able to say, simply, “from Toronto”. It’s understandable but still a bit odd how much our identities are tied up by where we live!

  3. Mark, bless you in the mess, the transition and in the identity crisis. We hear and understand what you mean. We will pray with knowing hearts for you and Cheryl. Go and rock these students world with a new view of how big God can be!

  4. Hey Mark, I was wandering around cyber space and came across the information of your move to Ambrose which is my alma mater (aka Canadian Bible College) and there are plenty of people around there that I went to school with. Bless you mate as you endeavor to move from pastoring to teaching pastoring. Life certainly takes some interesting turns. I’m currently down here at the bottom of the world in New Zealand still giving pastoral leadership within the Alliance family of Churches. Transition for us has certainly had its stresses but also it rewards and that, as you have written, is the essence of our faith… the journey. Keep up the good work brother and I guess I could say welcome to our family of Churches. We just had Ken and Carla Draper here teaching us Alliance History and Thought. It was great to have them come… if you are ever doing the southern hemisphere circuit please be sure and let us know and we can have you come and encourage our pastors and workers down here.
    Cheers
    Kevin Nichol

    • Kevin – so good to hear from you. I think of you often (I can still hear you say, “Jesus oooozed compassion.” Yes, life is a funny, and sometimes fun, journey. I thought I was a west coast lifer, and now here I am on the frozen and shoreless tundras of Alberta – but quite loving it. I’ll have to get down your way one of these years. Shalom, m

      • Frozen is right… just heard the latest weather report! lol If you ever get the itch to head down here be sure and look us up in Auckland and we will look after you while you’re here. Merry Christmas 🙂