As the daughter of a woman who lives daily with a mental illness, mental illness is a huge part of my story. It is part of the crack that I, at one time, would have liked to have hid. But over the years have learned to share in this part of my story.
There are so many pieces of my story that I hid from and wanted to hide from in my life. I never thought I would end up at seminary. In fact, I am pretty sure I tried to shut every door and window as God tried to lead me here. But our God is a persistent God! I did end up at seminary. And to this day, seminary is a piece of my story that I love to share. Seminary wasn’t all peaches and cream. In fact, it was full of so much hard. It seemed like every time I turned around, the next hard thing was placed in front of me.
As I struggled and struggled and struggled to pass systematic theology, I wondered if I would ever pass the class. It was a seminary professor who realized that I am an auditory learner who created an independent study for me. Together we would talk. I would record our sessions and then go home and listen to them. I would come back to the next session with my questions. I passed the class that year!
To this day, my Wartburg Seminary community is one of the greatest joys of my life despite the hard and awful that seminary gave me. In the end, I came out stronger and more confident than I had been before. And it is because of this, that I am so thankful for this place and the people I was blessed to get to know there. The truth is that our community suffers when another suffers. It hurts when another hurts. Together we are a community of faith that holds each other in our joys, pains and sorrows.
As I write this blog post this morning, friends and colleagues are gathered in two different states to say goodbye to faithful servants. In Norfolk Nebraska, my friend Justin Wiese is being laid to rest. Justin and my paths crossed at Wartburg Seminary. And today, there are so many from our community who are grieving. We are sad, shocked and wonder why this life was taken way too soon. Everything in me wants to gather and hold my friends and not let go.
And in Minnesota, friends and colleagues are gathered to say goodbye to Maggie Lux Cumings. I didn’t know Maggie, but am connected to her through our mutual friends. Two lives taken way too soon leaving behind spouses and beloved children. It is hard not to be paralyzed by this deep grief.
And yet in my deep grief, especially for my friend Justin and all who know and love him, I cannot help but be thankful for Wartburg Seminary where together we experienced the joy of learning. And where together we became friends and colleagues who support one another in the midst of life’s awful.
So in the midst of today’s sadness; today’s grief, I am clinging to this promise of jagged grace especially for Justin and Maggie’s families. May we cling to the promises of resurrection hope as in Minnesota and Nebraska these words are spoken over both Maggie and Justin. “Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Justin (your servant Maggie). Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him (her) into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light (ELW; P. 283).”
Thank You for giving us these two faithful servants to know and to love.