It was during my intro to scriptures class that I started really questioning everything I believed. I learned about epic stories such as Gilgamesh that predate any biblical writings but are very similar to Bible stories such as creation and Noah. There was a moment of crisis when I came to the realization that those stories might have been the basis for the same stories we find in the Bible. It was only natural for me to start questioning the Bible as a whole. That was a rough semester for me, to put it mildly. With my Scriptures 1 class this semester, I’m about to do it all over again except in greater depth.
I expect to be faced with doubts and fears. I expect to end the semester with more questions than I have today. And I expect to be annoyed at all of this. But I also expect that I will be ok and my faith will be left intact, albeit a little different which brings me to my main point.
I was talking to someone today and told them that with each semester of seminary, I feel like I’ve become more of a wanderer than I’ve ever been before. To some of you, that may raise red flags. I get it. When it first started happening, I desperately fought to retain comfortable patterns of thought. There hasn’t been one facet of my faith I haven’t questioned at least once in the 3 semesters I’ve been here. And it’s taken me that long to realize that it’s ok. Being a wanderer isn’t all that bad. In fact, being a wanderer brings freedoms that you don’t normally have when you feel like you need to have it all together.
I have the freedom to ask the questions that I never felt brave enough to ask. Thankfully, I go to a school where it’s not only ok to do this, it’s actually encouraged! Why was Abel’s sacrifice ok and Cain’s wasn’t? And why wasn’t it Abram that was cursed for saying that Sarai was his sister instead of his wife? Why are there 2 creation and 2 flood stories? It’s questions like these that bring a freshness of scripture that I’ve never experienced before.
I also have the freedom to try out faith traditions different than my own. I’ve had the opportunity to worship with Presbyterians, Anglicans (both here and in the UK) and Lutherans. Jason and I would love to visit a Jewish synagogue on Shabbat. He even told me he would call them ahead of time and let them know that the Gentiles are coming (UPDATE: We visited a synagogue on our honeymoon in Curacao – it was great!). There’s also a local Mennonite church that I am very interested in. I grew up believing that any church outside of my own was something to be suspect of, if not outright feared. What I’ve come to believe is that these churches are made up of people like me who love God and are worshiping in a way they feel comfortable. And that’s a beautiful thing.
Lastly, it’s given me freedom to not have to know all of the answers. Anyone that tells you they have all of the answers about God has done nothing but reduce him to an easily packageable and understandable being. I’m sorry, but I’d rather have a God bigger than my tiny, fallible brain can handle. Anything smaller than that and you have to wonder what’s the point.
So I’m wandering, hence the “Pilgrim” aspect of The Clumsy Pilgrim. Rest assured that there will be clumsiness ahead. Maybe I should walk around with caution tape wrapped around me. Then you can’t say you haven’t been warned when I say something just short of heresy.
Until next time, fellow wanderer, roam if you want to, roam around the world. You know the rest.