Pilgrim Moves

Earlier this week my Dean popped by and asked if I might like to join him and another colleague for a little stroll, to our new digs for the next 14 months. At the end of April we empty our building, and the insides of this 55 year old building will get a major overhaul. It is badly in need of the same, with asbestos here and there, and everywhere a dearth of electrical outlets. Other issues abound and we look forward to a rejuvenated building. The plans for the renovation look stellar, and while we look forward to the move back in, we also know we are about to begin a bit of an institutional pilgrimage.

Our interim offices are on the top floor of an early 70s residence – repurposed in the manner of converting bedrooms, dining rooms and living rooms into offices. I have the happy pleasure of inheriting a living room that is larger than my current office, and so have been allotted the kind of space that admits the dangerous temptation of adding bookshelves, and so more books. Pray for me since I will return to a smaller office.

Our chapel will be an “L” shaped room that eats up the better part of a former quad, and will do quite well for our weekday prayer services and our weekly Communion. For special services, the just off campus Roman Catholic parish, St. Michael’s, has agreed to make space for us and Inshallah, the seminary and community global music choir conducted by our Dean of Chapel Debbie Lou Ludolph, which will meet there late Tuesday afternoons. Classes will be spread out across campus by the fiat of the university allotment system, but the powers that be hope to keep us in common corridors.

All in all, things seem to be coming together.

Still, by all accounts, a pilgrimage remains a pilgrimage. It involves a wager that the journey is worthy of the costs. The costs, in this instance, are not insignificant and risks are clear: how will we keep the community connected without the our building playing host; how will worship work without the familiar spaces that facilitate our experience of the holy; how will we be in a new location since we both shape and are shaped by the places we go; will all the fund fall in place?

Scholars of pilgrimage speak of the role of narrative in the ritual of pilgrimage. Holy journeys draw upon stories of travel and trial – stories of manna and water from a rock, and they create stories that feed the future. I have no doubt that when the history of our school is told to subsequent generations, this will not be an insignificant marker in the history that we are becoming. Pilgrimages hold great possibility: dislocation allows a fresh appraisal of identity and provides opportunity for both the retrieval of lost or forgotten resources and the arrival of possibilities that cannot be imagined in the comfort of well-trod trails.

Only time will tell what will be told about the years 2017-18, but I am sure of one thing: grains of sand will reckon in the accounting, and these will be reminders of both irritants to pilgrim feet and the accounting of Abraham’s blessing.

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7 thoughts on “Pilgrim Moves

  1. R says:

    Thanks for this! We have pending office moves ahead too … ugh! May there be blessings there and here despite it all.

  2. shoreacres says:

    This is quite timely, given that the whole of the Weather Underground blogging community is on the move, and the end will come about noon today. It’s interesting to ponder a difference, though. You’re on pilgrimage, but pilgrims come home. The WU folks now are a diaspora, and there’s going to be a good bit of wandering in the wilderness before everyone gets settled!

    • agjorgenson says:

      I’m not familiar with this movement. What’s the story? You have me intrigued – curious in fact!

      • shoreacres says:

        After a series of changes in ownership, IBM now owns Weather Underground. Essentially, it’s turning it into a commercial forecasting service, and in the process have completely revamped the website. They eliminated the extensive photo galleries, and all of the personal weather blogs — the two features which helped build the site in the beginning.

        With the blogs shut down and the photos gone, all of the people who either were active bloggers or who had archived blogs and photos had to pack up and leave. Dr. Masters and some others still will have their blogs, but personal blogs no longer are possible, and they’ve moved to a Disqus commenting system which is going to be awkward during times of heavy use (in my opinion).

        I’ve deleted my account there, have developed a network of other weather sites that will do fine for severe weather and hurricanes, and will follow some friends to new websites that are being developed. Since I no longer was blogging there, it wasn’t the trauma for me that it was for some, but I did have to fight off a little nostalgia. My first blogging was done there, and I only moved to WordPress after some friends said I should look for a bigger platform.

        So that’s the story on that. It had turned into a tightknit community, and now the community’s fragmented. It’s just like life, actually.

      • agjorgenson says:

        Wow, that is a sad story. And I knew nothing of it. Thanks for bringing me up to speed.

  3. […] home for the next 14 months, or so, while our seminary building undergoes extensive renovation. I wrote of this a couple of weeks ago, and noted that we are moving into residences converted into offices. I have the happy accident of […]

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