An Introductory Reflection:

My motives for enrolling and what I hope to achieve from this class.  

When I was younger I used to fantasize about my dream wedding, as, in my defence a lot of  young women still do. I picture all our loved ones gathered together in one place to celebrate, bear witness, and, more importantly, support and advise us throughout our journey. As a young girl, I remember that it was important to my close friends to get married in a church before God as their witness and, since it is deem an appropriate tradition, I went along with it. However, as I got older my thoughts returned to this question. One day I asked my mom why we never went to church and why she stopped going when she got married? Her answer was simple, she said it was because she felt much closer to God outside at home than in a church. Not long after this conversation I understood or gained perspective on what she meant. It was the beginning of calving season in January, my favorite time of year, and it must have been about 12 o’clock at night. The air was crisp and my flashlight battery softly buzzed. We climbed over the fence and into the corrals where cows were buried in the straw, with snow caked on their backs. My mom, kind of talking to herself, asked what would it be like if so many people were penned up in close proximity to one-another, and what would they do? I was shuffling around behind her trying to catch up as she stopped walking and turned off her flashlight. I followed suit and there we stood, under the clear sky with the soft moans of cows surrounding us. It was here, in this moment, where I felt like I was in complete peace. This overwhelming awe and happiness came about me, to witness the cows nestle together without a strife or sore to pick, the cold air that cleansed, and the beauty of nature from the star-filled sky to the woman that stood beside me, rough hands and crinkled eyes.

I think this is the place where I fell in love with nature and my parent’s farm. I have not yet come across a place I felt more connected to. To this day I would carry on my mother’s ritual. I would go outside, check the cows, sink into the deep snow, and simply witness. I think sitting there in complete silence and in the company of my cows has taught me more about myself and who I wanted to be than any other experience. I loved being out there because this is where I felt closest to God. And so, as I am overly invested in the matters of the heart, I realized that the only thing I really wanted for my ‘dream’ wedding is to get married somewheres out there in nature.

Since my arrival at Augustana, university has changed me. My faith became more of something that I had to actively seek and choose rather than letting it be apart of who I am. My believing was dependent on disciplinary means, such as studying the Bible, verses listening in on my inner instincts. Although all these things are vastly important, this type of approach to faith only pays attention to one aspect of faith in a larger sense. I see how student life changed my approach to faith as it began to mirror the values of the university. Being in an atmosphere where I feel like I have no time to think but simply adapt to what I am told and to do as they say changed my ability to appreciate, gain perspective, or become passionate about certain topics.  I interpreted the ‘performance of intelligence’, being well read and charismatic, as being more important than understanding the basic human response to suffering, discrimination, and inequality. At a larger sense, allowing one’s self to care, not to develop a proactive solution or try to justify for or against something but simply to stop and care. To me university also did not seem to value either practical knowledge or one’s own personal beliefs (as it may sway one’s perspective; personal bias).  Anything that I believed in that was not  ‘rational’ or ‘logic’ I felt as if people classified in me as naive. It is wrong to act on ideals, how we wish the world could be, because it portrays us as vulnerable, open for being cheated. I was left with the controversy of doing what is smart and acting on hope. Hope, the love of life.    

I really started second guessing myself and I tried to abandon the fundamental parts of what made me me. I was ashamed of myself and I developed a social anxiety.  I believed that what I stood for was altogether naive and intangible.The way I felt about nature, about God, and life all seemed to vanish within a short instance. I felt nothing, I had no pulse. I couldn’t love, I didn’t have the capacity to support anyone, and the worst part was I couldn’t hurt.  Not feeling anything is the only thing that I could feel. My body, mind, and soul were completely disconnected. The things that would have once made me cry in the past would make me cry involuntarily, however without the remorse that was pitted in my stomach. I was burnt out and I had no idea how to escape from this.  

It wasn’t until I enrolled in “Spirituality and Globalization” that things started to look up. It helped me ask myself about what I thought and, more importantly, to think that what I had to say mattered. Reflecting on my life and putting it down into words helped me appreciate all the amazing people (those who love me, those who have shaped me, and those who have shown me grace) to lead me on my path in life. This class was the first class where I actually learnt something.  This course helped me pick up the pieces of my life and made it something worthwhile to live for. I am so thankful and grateful to have had the opportunity to enroll in this class. I don’t think people know how much impact we have on one another and how in those moments they carry a piece of someone else inside for them.

When I heard they were offering a course that took on a similar approach as “Spirituality and Globalization” I couldn’t not enroll. I have become  a big advocate for experiential learning. I have come to realize that knowledge is nothing without perspective; that there is no such thing as a smart man but a man of experience.  I also wanted to re-establish my connection with the land. Living in town and being over consumed by education I have lost sight of nature as a teacher and a giver. And most importantly I have enrolled in this class because I want to re-establish my relationship with God. I believe nature has the ability to move us away from the cultural influences and focus us more purposefully on Him. I want to develop a deep and personal relationship with God, to change this paradigm from obeying and proactively following God, so that one can feel worthy of His love, to loving Him first and wanting to actively follow and obey Him. I want to love oriented by grace. To want to appreciate and recognize His works. To see Him as a child does and love Him like a child would.