I’m procrastinating. Which isn’t unusual. But today it’s not the normal seminarian distractions dragging out the process of studying Greek declensions. It’s the musk smell, the angle of the light.
Autumn is here. It blows through Nashotah’s wooded campus, ruffling the leaves and sneaking under doorways, inspiring students and faculty to unpack their sweaters and wool socks. Children play on the playground while their mothers swap tales over mugs of hot cider. This very minute seminarians are strolling to St. Mary’s Chapel in black cassocks and wool hats. I even spied a scarf today.
Autumn in Wisconsin. It’s a bright backdrop to the Annual Nashotah House Retreat, a three day campus-wide time of community prayer and silence. This year we are blessed to have the Rt Rev’d Daniel W. Herzog lead the retreat. The Nashotah House Retreat is a time of reflection, liturgical worship, healing services, the exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, culminating in a Solemn Mass and Matriculation. The Retreat is an integral part of the formation in Christ that we are all striving for in our common life. Never mind how much homework you might have to do. For three whole days prayer and adoration are only thing on your to-do list.
Seminarian life can be a challenging and sometimes surreal process of transformation, of learning how to better serve Christ’s church responsibly. But sometimes we get small foretastes of why we’re flipping through Hebrew flashcards and serving on the various rotas, glimmers of where Christ is leading his church. Nashotah’s Spiritual Retreats are one of those times. What a blessing: to worship with such a smart, beautiful, unique, vibrant coterie of Christians, to join in one song.
Autumn reminds us that seasons come to an end, and so will our time at Nashotah House. As the Rev. R. Leigh Spruill from St. George’s Episcopal Church, Nashville, recently reminded us for the commemoration of the 350th Anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, we are a mission with a church, not a church with a mission. Someday we will leave this school to join the mission of Jesus in the world. As much as we might love Nashotah’s student life (or perhaps, at times, resent it), we would not have it any other way. The world is hungry for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our Lord has called. We must go.
As they say at closing time, “You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.”