Thursday, April 16, 2009

Boston, continued...

Well, it's been just about two weeks since I got back from Boston, and to answer your first question, no, I don't have a decision yet. Not an official one, at least. I know what I'm leaning toward, but we won't go there quite yet... I would like to catch you up on what the rest of my trip entailed, though. It'll be the (somewhat) shortened version. Enjoy!

Monday (30th): It was cold and rainy again. Seemed to be the theme for the week, actually. Definitely something I'd have to come to terms with if I moved up there. I bundled up a little, though, and took an umbrella with me to go do some more exploring. Started off downtown again and just wandered through some streets taking pictures. Went through the deserted Boston Common. And I'm sure I got some funny looks as I stopped to take pictures, while the rain fell and while my umbrella attempted to escape my clutches. I don't mind a few stares, though, if I can get some good shots in, and I did get a couple of decent ones. Stopped at McDonald's for a mocha to warm up and dry off a bit. Then I headed back to Vic's to grab my stuff and head for the hotel where I'd be staying for the next two nights. As I was walking to the hotel from the subway stop, I noticed a girl about my age with a suitcase who was heading the same direction, and I wondered if she might be part of the group, and it turns out that not only was that true, but she was also my suitemate at the hotel. So Jayne and I checked in together and got settled in our rooms. She went to see her sister, who lives in Boston, and I took some time to relax for a while. That evening, the prospective students who were there already met up just down the street from the hotel at the Theology House, which is (not so surprisingly) some housing for about 20 theology students. We got to meet some of the current students over pizza, talk to our fellow prospectives, and take a tour of Theology House. Afterwards, a group of about 10 or so of us prospective students went out to talk some more and get to know each other. I know I very much shocked one of my fellow Southerners (from Paragould, AR, actually...) by the fact that I'm a Church of Christer and was considering Boston University, and also that I went out with the group, knowing that there'd be some alcohol involved (very minor amounts, for those of you who might also be shocked). That evening I really connected with Jayne and also with two guys named Matthew and Aidan. The four of us ended up spending a decent amount of time together over the next couple of days, and I'm thankful for having met them. They helped make it a great experience for me and gave me a good taste of what I could expect if I decided to attend there.

Tuesday (31st): Well, I wish I could say that Tuesday got off to a good start. Honestly, it didn't. I didn't sleep well at all, due to the fact that it was 85 DEGREES in my room! Aaah! I was sweating and throwing off covers, opening windows, closing windows when it got too light and too loud outside, doing just about anything possible to sleep sanely, and failing miserably at my attempts. I think I easily woke up 6 or 8 times during the night. It didn't help that I was right over a very busy street, and it really didn't help that that morning, of all mornings, there was a protest just about 30 yards down the street, where some group had chained a mannequin to a storefront, someone had called in a bomb threat, and there were multiple sirened vehicles passing by just under my window. Yikes! But after a rocky start, the day turned out to be a good one. It was actually sunny and decently warm on Tuesday (the only day of the week!). A group of us met in the lobby of the hotel and walked on down to the school for breakfast with the dean and the rest of the prospective students who'd arrived too late to join in at Theology House the night before. After breakfast, I attended a survey of the New Testament class (taught by a woman!!), and then it was time for lunch with the dean and many of the professors. They were amazingly nice and very interesting people who were fun to talk to. After lunch was another class, then a walking tour of some of BU's campus. An hour or so of free time, and then dinner at a Chinese restaurant. After dinner, we went to the dean's apartment, just down the street, where we had dessert and talked amongst ourselves for a while. A few of us went back to the place we'd been the night before, where we played a thrilling game of Clue and then headed to bed.

Wednesday (1st): We had a lovely time eating the varieties of pancakes that the BU Theology Students' Association whipped up for us that morning. Afterwards a quick tour of the theology building and theology library. Then it was off to chapel. The chapel service was very encouraging to me. Some good singing, a good message, and a bit of time to refocus myself on God's control of my situation and future. I definitely needed that last part especially, because this whole decision-making process has been heart-wrenching for me. There are things about each school that I love, and a few things about each that would be difficult or frustrating to me. Each school offers so much; they just offer different things. And so the challenge has been to determine which one is the better fit for me at this point in my life, to foresee which one I will benefit most from intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and in so many other ways. So the reminder of God's presence and benevolence was much appreciated. After chapel was the weekly community lunch with all of the school of theology's student body, faculty, and staff. As we were walking to lunch, I happened to spot Dr. James Walters, one of the professors whom I'd been able to email quickly with before I left for Boston, and we were able to sit together at lunch and talk some more. (One of the people I'd met at ACU had mentioned that he knew some people in Boston, so he'd put me in contact with Steve Holt, who you'll hear more about later, who then connected me with Dr. Walters and a guy named Chad via email...) Dr. Walters was a wonderful man for me to meet and talk with for many reasons. Besides just being a great and friendly guy, he comes from a background that is very much like mine. He's a Southerner, a member of the Churches of Christ, he was a professor at Harding for 10+ years, and he actually was offered a job at ACU at the same time he was offered his position at BU. He knows and has worked with a number of the ACU faculty. And so he was able to understand and address a number of my thoughts, questions, and fears about this decision that I'm making. And he's expressed that he'd be willing to provide a listening ear to me if I needed it in the future. So that was comforting, knowing that if I did end up at BU, I would have someone who understood where I was coming from and why I might be struggling with certain things as opposed to others. I'm very thankful to have met him! After lunch, we were taken on a trolley tour of the city, which was quite entertaining, and I learned a decent amount about the city's history while also getting to talk more with some of the prospective students. And when we got done with the tour, our official event were over. Sad! I had to start saying goodbye to my newfound friends, knowing that there was a good possibility I'd never see some of them again... Jayne went to do some organ practice for when she got back home the next evening. Matthew went to meet a friend of his. Aidan and I went to Bruegger's Bagels to get a drink and some internet. We spent an hour or so there talking until it was time for him to leave for home. Hugs and goodbyes, and I headed back to Vic's. It was cold and rainy again, and I honestly was a bit depressed and indecisive and upset, so I wasn't sure if I wanted to do anything that evening. But I convinced myself to go visit the Brookline Church of Christ (where Dr. Walters and his wife attend) because I found out it was only about a ten minute walk from Vic's apartment. Their website said they were meeting at 7 at the building, "no foolin!" (as it was April Fool's Day), so I gathered up my emotional strength and traipsed on over there, actually working myself up to looking forward to it, only to get there and realize that I really must have been fooled, because there was not a single person there, and the building was quite locked. It had started to rain, so I didn't wait around to get even more wet (hadn't taken the umbrella with me). I headed back to the apartment to settle in for the evening to myself. Vic came back a little later and very nicely fixed me something to eat (hadn't had dinner yet), and I caught him up on the past few days and then watched LOST while he worked on some other things. Went to bed very much emotionally and physically exhausted.

Thursday (2nd): Thursday morning I met up with this guy named Chad who I'd been able to email with a little. He's another one who's familiar with both ACU and BU and is interested in many of the same things that I am, so he was able to provide yet another perspective on things for me, to give me some things to think about. While we were sipping our coffee and munching our pastries, all of a sudden at my elbow, Matthew walks up and says, "I don't know enough people in this town to be bumping into people I know." So after Chad and I finished up, Matthew and I went to meet up with Jayne for a while, and then when she had to leave, he and I headed over the the campus to eat lunch with a friend of his and some of the theology students. Then it was time for him to leave, and I was alone again in the city. For the afternoon, I went over to Harvard's campus for a while. I'd heard it was a bit greener than much of the rest of the city, and it was, so that was nice. And any theology student registered at any of the Boston schools can take theology classes at any of the other schools, so I might be taking some classes at Harvard if I end up up there. Sat for a while on the steps to one of the buildings. Called Nellie and filled her in on the details of the trip that far and what I was thinking. Spent some time praying and reading in my Bible (the story of Moses' calling). Left Harvard to go visit the USS Constitution. It's the oldest commissioned naval vessel still floating. 1797. Got to take a tour of it, which was quite interesting. Walked to the Bunker Hill monument. Then hopped on the T to head out to Steve and Chrissy Holt's house for the evening. Like I mentioned, I got in contact with Steve through one of the people I'd met at ACU over their preview weekend at the beginning of March. I'd emailed Steve a few days before leaving for Boston and was able to talk with him on the phone for an hour or so as well. He and Chrissy had hoped to meet me at the airport when I came in, since they only live one stop away from it, but with my rescheduled flights, that didn't end up working out. The two of them and some friends meet weekly on Thursday nights for dinner and some time of fellowship and Bible study, so I was able to join them, and it was a huge blessing to me! Both Steve and Chrissy and two of the other members of the group had done some grad work at ACU and then moved up to Boston. They had had varying experiences at ACU. None particularly bad, just some different perspectives and insights on what to expect and what might be gained from grad work there or in Boston. It was good to be around a group of people who'd been through some of the things I was considering and who also shared faith that was very similar to mine. Those few hours with them were among the most encouraging and precious of the week for me. I know for a fact that if I end up in Boston, I will greatly need a group like them. One couple dropped me off at the T station, and I headed back to Vic's house to talk with him a while and head to bed.

Friday (3rd): My last day in Boston. Again, cold and rainy. Surprise, surprise... Said goodbye to Vic in the morning as he headed out to work. Got up and dressed, packed my bag, and then went to run a few errands. Picked up a gift card to a bakery as a thank you to my wonderful host, went over to Theology House to recover his umbrella that I'd left there on Monday night on accident. Ate lunch at a little diner around the corner from his apartment. Didn't have much else to do. I'd pretty much seen the sights I wanted to see, plus I was tired of walking around in the rain, so I spent a few minutes catching up on some emails. Then I gathered up all my stuff and headed out. I got to the airport a little early (despite the fact that from the T stop, I got on the wrong bus which took me to the wrong terminal, so I had to walk quite the distance to the correct terminal). Checked in my bag and got my boarding passes and had about an hour and a half to wait. I considered settling down in the terminal for that time. But then I made up my mind. I'd never been to the Atlantic. The only time I'd ever been to the beach was for an hour or two one afternoon in Marseille. I wasn't going to come all the way from Arkansas to Boston, be that close to the coast, and not go! I hadn't found a way to squeeze it in earlier in the week, and even though it was dreary outside, Vic had told me about Revere Beach, which was only four stops away from the airport, and I was going to go. Knew I'd be cutting it close, but I'd at least try! So I left the airport and headed back out. I actually made it with plenty of time to spare, so I took fifteen minutes or so to walk on the beach, step into the quite cold waves of the Atlantic, take a few pictures and collect a few seashells to take home with me. Perhaps not most people's ideal beach experience, but it all seemed very fitting to me, including, and perhaps especially, how overcast and gray it was. Just seemed to fit my temperament at the time. Back at the airport (I took the right bus this time), I easily made it onto my flight and headed out of Boston. For all I knew, it could have been my first, last, and only time to be in the city, and so it was a bit sad. But in all honesty, I was so emotionally spent from the week of wrestling with my options that I was longing to be home and back in the familiar. No 4 1/2 hour layover in Cincinnati this time, thankfully. And back at XNA, Nellie and Jedediah were there to pick me up and drive me home. Open spaces, stars, trees, tree frogs... all thing that I'd missed very much during the week that I'd been away. As much as I like the idea of Boston and all it offers, I know there are things -- big things and very small things -- that I'd miss very much about my home. It was good to be back. Good to be home.

So the question still remains, yes, after two more weeks of contemplation and prayer and attempts to think about each possibility as if it had already been decided and attempt to not think about it at all... I am excited about the possibilities that are open to me, the amazing opportunities that God has given me. But I am saddened by what I know I will be giving up. No matter which choice I make, I know that there are things about the other school that I will be missing out on, perhaps never to experience. And I am scared. Not exactly scared that I will make the wrong choice, because I don't think that either choice is a bad one. More scared that I will struggle for whatever reasons with the choice that I do make. I know which direction I am leaning, but I am still waiting for more information about scholarships from ACU before I make that decision final. I covet your prayers. Prayers for my ability to make a wise decision, prayers for my sanity, prayers for my ability to cope with and meet the challenges that will come my way wherever I end up. I thank God for you and for your encouragement! And now, after what must be the longest blog post ever, I think it's about time to call it a night...

Lady of the Library
(For more pictures, check out my album on facebook.)

1 comment:

Graham said...

Wow, what a whirlwind adventure that must have been! Having been in those different places, though I could imagine you walking around and exploring, and chilling, and I envy you :) I don't envy your decision-making process - how different are Abilene and Boston!, but like you said, one place probably isn't the "right" choice. What matters is that you allow the Trinity to move and guide you wherever you are... to join with God in this unfolding adventure that is life.

And that is so cool that you met Steve and Chrissy! I love those guys. And did you get to meet Kelly and Houston Shearon? I love those guys too :) They are definitely a big part of my own personal pull toward Boston!