December is a much-anticipated month for many. But the television and greeting card images of this holiday season are often very different from what we experience. So, here is one snapshot of what December is like here at PSR.
While the Christmas cards extol a snowy winter wonderland, here in Berkeley, we expect the gift of water. Rain, while damp and inconvenient at times, also brings the gift of life. The bay area becomes green again, new flowers are spotted in the neighborhood, and the sound of rain on the roof is welcomed back. Perhaps new life and refreshing waters are some of the things we await during advent. For the many homeless who call the bay area home this can be a challenging time. We are proud of our many alums who serve these populations, including Thom Longino (MDiv 2004) and Monique Ortiz (MDiv 2006) with San Francisco Night Ministry and Megan Rohrer (MDiv 2005) with WELCOME.
It can be easy to forget the intense pressure of finals once you leave an academic institution. It is its own unique reality of trying to schedule your creativity, energy, and even (God help us) inspiration. While the stress feels unwelcome, it is an apt analogy, one might say even experience, of facing the darkness this season – and having faith. May the camaraderie of fellow classmates and the knowledge that so many have gone before, help students persevere through one more exegesis, one more oral exam, and one more final exam.
Children anticipate gifts, families anticipate reunions, many anticipate a break from shopping and preparing, and church communities anticipate welcoming the light of Christ. Here at PSR we anticipate few other things as well: a welcome break in the academic cycle, end-of-year donations (keep ’em coming!), and the excitement of Earl Lectures 2011. We are eager to welcome alumni/ae and friends to campus for the annual Earl Lectures, January 25-27. We are excited to hear the words and ideas of Robert Reich, Kim Bobo, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, among others, as they address the pressing issue of economic justice in today’s world. Amidst our many holiday preparations, we are busy scheduling workshops, making banquet preparations, and coordinating room reservations.
Is there any spiritual practice better for this season then being right where we are at? Whether we are in Berkeley taking exams, in Iowa ministering to congregants, or in Japan teaching students, Christmas calls to us to welcome the darkness as well as the light, the sun as well as the rain.