Tuesdays Together

Today was another wonderful day on the Twin Cities campus. I started my day by surprisingly not running late to my first class. What a plus! My mind was busy, full of my many assignments I must complete when I realized that today was Tuesday. Which means today was a soup day at Grace! Soup was wonderful, and just like at pause last week, there were a lot of new faces. This Tuesday however was not just an ordinary Tuesday. It was in fact the second Tuesday of the month. This can mean only one thing, that I get to help out at Tuesdays Together. Now tonight was the first time I had ever gone and I was nervous but excited to help. When we got there Tom explained to us that we would be watching and entertaining the kids for the evening. This would be fun! We were shown around the community center, but I still had a few butterflies in my stomach. When we were shown the gym a little girl came out and gave me hug. She said hi and then ran and played. My nerves were at once settled, maybe this wouldn’t be so hard! In that moment I knew I could do it! The kids were adorable and I loved every minute of it! I can’t wait to go back in a month and help again!

Curiosity in action

Of the five values we hold at LCM: hospitality, service, justice, integrity, and curiosity, I have the most trouble living out curiosity on a daily basis. In my classes over the past two years here at the U, I think I’ve trained myself to just accept and write down everything my professors tell me. After all, they are the experts on the subjects, and I’m supposed to be the sponge… soaking up all of the information!! This was okay for me while taking my Lib-Ed requirements just to get a grade for the first four semesters, but something clicked this summer for me as I became more interested/passionate about what I was learning in my program and from the greater world around me.

I was blessed to nanny for a family with two young girls this past summer. I was surprised on a daily basis by the imagination and genuine curiosity of the 3 year-old. She could play at the park–mostly by herself as I was holding her 8 month-old sister–for hours. Pretending to be a pirate, playing house with her imaginary friends, watching the birds,  and asking me SO many, “Why?” questions. “Kalysta, why are those birds all together?” “Why is that guy walking by us?” She even noticed a colony of ants on a walk one day–something that I would have walked right past– sat down on the ground next to them and asked, “What are they doing?” Pure, spontaneous curiosity. This is something I’ve let go of, I think, because of the college bubble that I’ve been in for two years.

In goal-setting for myself this semester, I’ve decided to BE CURIOUS by asking- either verbally to my professors/peers or mentally to myself while reading or learning- Why? Why am I learning this? Why is this important? Using a three year-old as my role model and inspiration, I hope to dig deeper and grow. Constantly learning, wondering, and appreciating the greater world around me.

Stay curious, folks 🙂

Kalysta Schlitter

Experiencing God in unexpected places!

LCM Blog 9/4/12

The cool crisp air ran through my tossled hair as I slowly made my way along the west river road. Saturday morning was one of the most beautiful mornings I have experienced in some time and I was able to take time to get out for  a nice long ride through the gorgeous city I now call my home. Although fall has always been my favorite season, there is something about the last few days of summer, the feeling of freedom, and the ready to turn trees that gives me a little extra energy. After a long week of leadership training, meetings, and moving in I needed to take some time for myself and explore the wonderful trails I am so privileged to have around me. It seems like I always have a lot on my plate and my mind continuous juggles far too many thoughts but on this ride I had an overwhelming sense of peace rush over me. I was about half way through my ride and decided to stop along the river and take in the beauty that surrounds me everyday. As I stood along the path taking in the glorious creations of god I also began to notice the others around me. The groups of mothers jogging with their strollers, the intense biker who was on a mission, or the family strolling through the park with there children. This was a major god siting for me. I felt as though it was the place I needed to be in that exact moment. To be there noticing all of the wonderful lives others have and how grateful I am to be able to be healthy enough to be on a bike, and close enough to be out enjoying such beautiful landscapes. I was reminded that morning of the importance of gratitude and being thankful for the ability to be able to perform everyday tasks, and that god is always there opening your eyes a little bigger, or speaking a little more clearly in the most unexpected of moments.

Amanda

Beginnings

1 Corinthians 12:14-20

‘Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body.’

This is a common passage that is frequently read. Despite how often we encounter this text, it is important to remember that we too are necessary as a part of community. At Lutheran Campus Ministry, we have a community like no other on the University of Minnesota campus. It is no surprise that the U of M campus is huge and often times feels overwhelming. Feeling as though you belong at the U can be a great fear. I had this same anxiety when starting college, but after becoming a part of the LCM community I truly feel like I belong here. At LCM I feel free to be who I am, no exceptions. I can bring any questions or problems that I am experiencing and have support to work through whatever is going on.

Know that whoever you are, whatever is going on in your life, there is always a place where you will be welcomed. We hope to see you soon! Come join us for Tuesday Soup (free!) every Tuesday, starting Sept. 4th, from 11:30am-1pm.

Laura McDowell

Curiosity as a value of faith

During leadership training we are revisiting our values as a ministry: hospitality, service, justice, integrity, and curiosity.

Curiosity: the desire to learn.

It is a value integral to deep faith, yet often overlooked in religion. Jesus is referred to as “teacher,” which means that we are his students. Our role is to question, to explore, to be curious.

Professors can lecture for an entire two hours, but nothing will take root without the students’ investment.

In the same way, we can live our lives at face value, simply accepting things as they seem, never questioning the why or the how. But without curiosity, without the hunger to learn, we can never know the world, each other, ourselves, or God as deeply.

As an exercise during training, we walked around campus and brought back an item or photograph of something that represents curiosity. A few of us returned with items from trees.

Trees, as they stand, are majestic. Without much curiosity, one can appreciate a tree as beautiful, tall, green. With curiosity, however, one can delve beneath the bark and into the leaves, wondering why this life exists and how this life is sustained. With curiosity, we reach a much deeper level of understanding and awe, astounded by the complexities and details of a life longer than our own.

And the deeper we go, the more curious we become – it is a never-ending journey.

In this way, by questioning and exploring our religions, our faiths, we delve ever deeper into the complexities and intricacies of God, never fully knowing and always hungering for more.

How I Have Seen God…

I didn’t join LCM until my sophomore year here at the U of M. My freshman year, I didn’t see God, mainly because I wasn’t looking.

Fast forward to my senior year…

In one of the first weeks of this school year, I paused for a moment during on our events, and I thought to myself, “since when did so many cool people start coming to LCM?” I don’t mean to offend anybody who came to LCM prior to this acknowledgement. It’s my fault. The cool people were always here, and I wasn’t. Up until this past fall, I never realized their greatness. I wasn’t present enough to do so. I was too caught up in my own world, trying to be my own savior.

Well that didn’t work.

You can’t find God if you’re not looking. Up until this year, I wasn’t looking hard enough. And then I opened my eyes. I noticed those who were present with me, and there God was too.

I was having a chat recently with another LCMer, which sparked this thought process. She told me about how important has been in her life this year. She thanked me for being a role model. I found this funny, because I didn’t join LCM to be a role model. I came for the same reasons she did:

To find friends.

To find community.

To find faith.

To find some reason to be hopeful.

To find a place to struggle, where struggling is socially acceptable, and where others are struggling right a long side of you.

That’s where God meets us, after all, in the struggling. So it makes sense that this is where I saw God. We all have brought our whole selves to this place, meaning we brought our struggles, our insecurities, our worries, our doubts, our imperfections, and we’re still okay. We have each other, and we have God. This community has meant more to me than any community I have ever been a part of. Because the people are real. The people care. The people love. And in those people, I have seen God, because I finally had the sense to look.

I love you all so much, and I will miss you all immensely!

Best of luck in all that you do!

-Ellen

God, present in others

Twice in this past year, around the end of each semester, my mom has had surgery.  Neither has been particularly serious, but each has presented its own challenges in recovery.

I’ve become quite familiar with feeling helpless as I’ve waited alone in the waiting room, and as I watch her trying to overcome the weakness that follows any surgery.  Being an only child, I have felt particularly responsible for being there for her, but often there’s nothing I can do but to be there along the journey with her.

In the past months, I’ve often felt overwhelmed, trying to balance life at school and life at home, but there have been so many people who have been there to help us through these tough times and for that I am incredibly thankful.  For a while, we had more food than we knew what to do with, because it seemed like a neighbor or friend would come over at least once a day with a meal.  When I had to go somewhere, someone would always offer to come over and keep my mom company, and people just keep checking up on us.

It’s been a good lesson to me, a stubborn, independent person, that I don’t have to go about life alone, especially the tough parts.  God shows up all the time in the people I know, in little ways that they might not even notice are that important: offering to sit with me in the waiting room, listening as I recount my rough days, and by praying for us.  But these little things make a world of a difference.

Dear Lord,
Thank you for all of the people you have placed in my life.  The way you show up through them continues to surprise and amaze me.  Help me to remember that I don’t have to face life alone, that you are always on my side, and you’re always sending help.
Amen

Sara Sneed

Parables

This weekend, I saw God in one of the last places I would have expected.  It wasn’t at the shopping mall, or in STSS.  I saw God while I was at work!  Crazy, right?

Maybe I should begin by explaining where I work.  I am an usher at Ted Mann Concert Hall, and I work at a lot of performances though the school of music as well as private renters.  This weekend, the U of M music theater put on a performance of the Opera “Parables”.  Parables is geared toward addressing the issues of racial and religious intolerance, and working to shed light on how we can be more tolerant of those around us.  The three main religions that were targeted in this opera were Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

One of the key ideas that was brought forward through this musical masterpiece was that religious tolerance can only be achieved when we take the “triumph” out of faith.  I was trying to decide what this meant exactly, because it was the first time I had heard it.  Herschel Garfein explained in a Q&A session after the performance that people often believe that their religion is right and everyone else is wrong.  In this regard, everyone believes that the whole world will be proven that their God is the “right” God and that everyone will convert to their faith.  Through this belief, it is hard to see another religion as equal, thus exemplifying intolerance.

There was also a powerful moment in the opera when the choirs representing each religion all said the name of “God” in their language, in unison.  This, along with many other pieces of symbolism went to show that we all believe in the same God, but told through a different story (or in this case, song).

I was fortunate enough to work during 3 performances of this production, and each time I saw it I took something new from it.  It is clear to me that religious intolerance exists everywhere, but it takes everyone to put an end to it.  God was most definitely present through the mouths of all of the performers, just as God was present in all the audience members who the message was passed on to.  I hope that the message this opera conveys continues to resonate on this campus long after the melodies can no longer be heard.

Joe Carlson