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Breathe


devaun - August 26, 2016 - 0 comments

Inhale.

I moved to Durham about three weeks ago with my cap and gown still in my back seat and a Blue Devil sticker on my windshield. To seminary I headed and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was finally taking the step I felt called to take and I would be making new friends to help me navigate such a journey.

Exhale. Inhale.

I moved in, started a job working with new undergraduate student programs, and began offering my own creative perspective to a team that had been hard at work to create the best first impression possible for the Duke class of 2020. One week down. Two weeks down. Wednesday would mark the beginning of my seminary journey – orientation. Before I got to my own orientation, I had to help with freshman move-in and first night programming. I found myself in the command center – being the point person for volunteers and acting as a staff representative for our office. Little did people know that I knew nothing about East campus at Duke but I think I played it off okay! Tomorrow would be the experience I had been waiting so long for.

Exhale. Inhale.

Coffee in-hand and my new friends by my side, we made our way down the stairs to Goodsen Chapel. We were greeted by second and third-year student orientation leaders – Sojourners – who would guide us through the three-day orientation process. I took my seat with group 14 and waited for worship to begin.

“Welcome home.” The words echoed through the chapel and so many eyes began to water. It is here that I and those around me have longed for. It is for this place that people have agreed to spend less time with their families, quit their jobs, abandon high financial status, and sacrifice part of themselves for. “Welcome home,” while just two words, were used as a vehicle to carry a reminder of grace and hope.

Exhale. Inhale.

Worship started and the preacher began to speak. Each year for orientation, a third-year student is elected to deliver the sermon to the incoming class. This year, Victor Greene was afforded the opportunity. “Christ Between Dark and Dawn.” He preached a message of hope and deliverance and justice and grace like none other I had heard before, emphasizing the importance of adjusting your eyes so that even in the darkness – through our assignments, denominational conundrums, tuition bills, family issues, and ever-present violence in our society – we may be able to see God at work in all people and in all things. He killed it!! Killed. It. I found myself teary eyed sitting in one of the seats that I will continue to worship in as Duke Divinity takes its turn shaping me into the pastor I hope to be. I am home.

In this sermon I found myself becoming excited and wanting more. I wanted to start classes. I wanted to stand on top of mountains and shout God’s love for all people so that they, too, will feel the love and the peace that I find through Him and experience the grace that we all share.

Exhale. Inhale.

As part of undergraduate orientation, we invited the first-year book author to speak to our students. Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, silenced the DPAC as he told stories of prison violence, mental illness, and the death penalty. With a heart for racial equality and justice, his talk had an underlying message of grace. He, unknowingly, reminded me of the sermon I had heard just a day before. “Do not be afraid.” God is with you always. My heart began beating fast again and I was ready to shout from the mountain again.

Exhale. Inhale.

Trying not to process all of this on my own, I reached out to people around me. If I didn’t get it out soon, I was going to explode. All week I have felt like Duke has been for me. For my well-being. For my spiritual formation. For my benefit – in shaping me to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am ready to make power moves.

Exhale. Inhale.

My pastor friend, birthday sharer, and Duke Div. alum Jenn Williams left me this message: “Deep breaths, soak it in…”

Exhale. 

Inhale. Exhale. 

Inhale.

I feel like I am on fire with God’s spirit and that nothing will drag me down. I feel like the world is awaiting change and with that, there is no place that I would rather be right now. I feel that my time is now and place is here, at Duke Divinity, that I will gather my tools and take on the world for the God who calls us by name.

I fought my call to ministry for a period of time and it took a lot of convincing to get me here. My pastors and friends pushed, prayed, and wrote countless letters of recommendations for me so that I could take this step.

So much is changing. I live in a new town, I’m meeting new people, I’m transforming the way I think. I cannot wait to learn Greek, explore the old testament, and learn how the church came to be. It’s all a little overwhelming, but with each deep, deep breath, I will be formed into the leader that God needs me to be for His church. With each breath, I will draw closer to the cross and be reminded that even the least of these are holy in the image of God. I can’t wait to soak it in with the deepest breath I can take.

Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale.

Inhale. Exhale

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