Sunday, December 05, 2010


Sunday Reflection: Manna

St. Thomas Law School is a remarkable place, in part because of the way the faith identity of the institution actually impacts life at the school without there being any kind of chapel requirements or the like.

One part of this is the fact that the time period from 12 to 12:30 is protected from class or other activities. Mass is held every day during this time, for those who choose that, and other religious groups hold meetings then. There is a Protestant group called Manna that meets then on Wednesdays. I've spoken to the group twice, and they seem to regularly get about 40-70 students who show up to hear a teacher or student give a short talk.

This week, my colleague Elizabeth Schiltz was speaking. I think she's brilliant, so I went down and sat in the back with Joel Nichols. She was wonderfully engaging in exploring the spiritual implications of the fact that we have these finite, fragile bodies. It was something I had given little thought to, and was 30 minutes very well spent.

But, as much as anything, I watched Lisa teach. She was warm and thoughtful and inviting, and I noticed that the female students especially seemed to respond to her style and message. There is really only one other person I have ever known with that set of abilities, and it is someone else I greatly admire and treasured as a colleague-- Melissa Essary.

I'm finding at St. Thomas that there are many people who are much better at particular things than I am... things that I want to be better at. Which, of course, means that I get to be both a student and teacher in this community, which is what I most desire.

My own need is to be both a follower and a leader to be whole, and my own challenge of discernment is to tell when to take on which role. That is something, I think, that God expects of us-- that we sometimes follow, and have the humility to accept that someone is better than us at nearly everything we do. Once that point of humility is accepted, life becomes so much better and more whole. There is learning to be done, and appreciation, and the sum of that is so much more than the spoils of always imagining yourself to be the best.

Well said . . . and when I remember to show humility (rather than trying to bluff my way that I know how to do something), I always find that people are so genuinely helpful that it makes learning something all the more meaningful. Admitting that I don't know or that I need help is the hardest part; what comes after is always better.
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