The trip back from Rapid City the other day was particularly long. My mood was not the best. I was neither angry nor upset. Rather I was a sad and reflective. Long periods of silence were interrupted with tears.
Someone asked me if I had seen a lot of wildlife. Sometimes we do, and I still marvel at it when I do. I was asked particularly about wild turkeys. I thought about the very large wild turkey I saw coming up the driveway at our home in Tennessee the last time I was there. I was quite amazed, through the brush to see him strutting around. I so wanted to take a picture of him.
As I thought about Tennessee, I wondered if my rhododendron bush was in bloom. I wondered if I’d miss it like I did the daffodils in my front yard. I don’t love rhododendrons as much as daffodils, but I do love them. I am sure I had seen them as a child. They are common in the Northeast. Nevertheless, it was our first year in Connecticut that I noticed them for the very first time. We first visited Connecticut prior to our move there in the early spring. I was in awe of them. They reminded me a bit of an orchid.
Last years blooms in my yard in Tennessee
I did notice some blossoms on trees, the greening of the prairie grass, the verdant blanket of wheat and the occasional whiffs of manure. Cows have been calving. We always comment on the calves. So little, they follow their mothers with great devotion. Desolation is being replaced with delicate life.
Yesterday, I noticed more and more daffodils in Sioux Falls. The tulips are also in bloom. While not common, a yellow burst of forsythia dots a yard. I wish I lived in Sioux Falls. It well deserves its #1 ranking by Forbes magazine. Although not to the level of rejuvenation I feel when I return to TN, a short trip to Sioux Falls is renewing. If it is coupled by a bargain find at a store, or a leisurely lunch with a friend, it can transform my mood to positive.
Sioux Falls Seminary (SFS) has also served to renew and transform me. I received a letter the other day from the Dean. It is time for a progress review. A year ago, I was excitingly anticipating my first classes at Sioux Falls Seminary. I loved those first two classes. I felt like at last, I have something to do of purpose in South Dakota.
While I felt oriented, I was required to go to an orientation last fall. I received this large 3-ring binder and was told this would be used for my progress review. It would be reviewed at the half way mark in my academic career at SFS. A recommendation based on progress would determine if I went further.
It’s that time. Yet, I am leaving again. All the hopes and dreams I had for my career at SFS have been dashed by the reality of accreditation policies. I was told I could never get into the Doctor of Ministry program without a ministry placement. While my grades are all A’s and I have proved myself more than capable of the work, without a place of service, I was unacceptable.
Visits, pleadings, prayer, requests for help in finding a placement, led nowhere. Ultimately, I am moving on to another path for the doctoral degree. I am excited about the new path, but feel very sad to be leaving the seminary. I am also sad that I have lost another valuable year of my life pursuing what I thought was a great plan.
I have gifts. I know that. I know they are gifts from God. I am not saying I am great, I am saying God has blessed me. He has given me a great mind to learn, exegete and preach the word of God. Yet, here in the Storehouses of Snow, there is no place for me to serve.
I don’t know if I’ll turn in my notebook for review. There is little point. My advisor was clear that I had no hope for a doctoral degree at Sioux Falls Seminary. His exact words were “I am not optimistic you can find a ministry placement.” His pessimism brought reality in view.
I’m thankful for all I’ve learned there. It will always be close to my heart. I have two classes to finish this semester. I am sad to leave.