Shared Tables, Shared Stories

Nearly everyday last week, I sat down with other campus ministers who are in a similar positions to mine with another church or denomination; we’ve shared coffee or tea and a bit about ourselves. The potential for a new friendship and partnership in ministry fills the tables at which we sit and I love these types of conversations. It’s a privilege to get to sit with people as they share who they once were, who they are now, and the journey that brought them to the space we now share.

Without fail as I recount for these new friends the place from which I came and describe my position and role with Christ Church and the Episcopal Campus Ministry, there is a pause and then a bit of confusion and the question, “so how did you get here?” This is a question I get a lot as a female cleric that grew up in a Christian tradition that didn’t allow women to serve in any leadership role, and I’ve really come to love the varying degrees of surprise and joy that dances across people’s faces as they try to imagine the journey that I’ve taken and the grace which I’ve encountered.

Day after day, I recounted versions of my journey, sometimes including more details, sometimes leaving them out. Throughout this process, though, I came to realize that how we get to where we are isn’t just the big life events. It isn’t just the moves or the shifts that help us remember the timeline that makes our journey, it’s the small, everyday happenings. It’s the people with whom we eat dinner on a weekly basis; it’s what books and articles we read. It’s the little things, the boring things that shape our journey just as much, if not more, than the big, interesting life events.

This, I think, is why sitting down and having coffee with someone and having a conversation for an hour is something that I love. It’s not just about the start of a new partnership or friendship, or the privilege of getting to hear someone else’s story, but it’s something that I love because it shapes who we are, even in the tiniest of ways. In so many ways our journeys aren’t our own, they are shaped by shared cups of coffee and shared stories; our journeys are shaped by those with whom we share a table. At the outset of this coming year, I look forward to the many shared tables, cups of coffee, and shared stories with parishioners, students, and other ministers with whom I share this vocation; I cannot wait to see where this journey takes us or the ways in which God’s grace will find us along the way.

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