Arriving at seminary was akin to viewing that shining city on a hill. Some called it cemetery. There was a little exclusivism present in the church because we were transitioning from the “corn-field preacher” mentality to high class philosophy. It was a place of solemnity, or was supposed to be; a place where the “brothers” were to study about theology, the Bible, and how to be a cleric. We didn’t wear our collars backwards though. Architecturally, it appeared to be a cathedral and classrooms all in one great, big, holy mass of heaven on earth. It wasn’t, but I was mesmerized. The church part was indeed a sanctuary, stained glass windows and everything; pulpit, altar, the whole works. The classrooms were classrooms. The coffee shop/lounge was a sanctuary in itself. Most of the brothers worked at outside jobs and came to class worn out and with little sleep. Therefore, the lounge became a place to sit down and take a power nap. I learned to sleep for 10 minutes and wake up as though I had been asleep for 2 hours.
Within walking distance a few bigshots owned rental properties that they rented to seminary students. They weren’t slumlords. The slumlords rented down on Troost or farther toward downtown on The Paseo. Nevertheless, big cheeses competed for the rental income of seminary students. Get it while you can. That must have been OK. I had other fish to fry.
We arrived as pore [poor] as Job’s turkey. A large, single family home owned by a church executive was to be vacated due to his move to a very large church on the west coast. It was not only offered to us, but we were welcomed with open arms. He and his wife really wanted us to rent their house and at a reduced price. That was not to be. Newly married, I soon learned that nothing was not to be and I went along allowing other people to make choices for me. I couldn’t understand why, but we rented an apartment in the slums paying more for rent than we would have paid for the mansion. Praise God!
I’m telling you, I had a vision of learning stuff and pastoring a church. I was hell-bent on keeping people out of hell. As in the first grade, I should have been held back. Here again, with my maturity level, someone should have told me the truth and the truth was that I had no business getting married, no business entering a graduate program and no business leading others down the path to Christian living when I hadn’t been there with any degree of understanding. I loved Jesus, as much as possible, but how can a guide lead someone on a journey when he had never been there? It’s like the blind leading the blind! “Hold your horses” is what I wish someone had told me. All I knew at the time was singing and focusing on the ministry.
Married the previous summer didn’t help. I had no idea what marriage should be other than everything would be hunkydorey. All aspiring preachers were supposed to get married, preferably to a woman who could play the piano. It was not to be, that is, the piano part.
The winter was harsh as were a few other things in my life. Ice, snow, freezing rain. Scraping 2 inches of ice and snow off my 1961 Ford Falcon at 7 o’clock in the morning and rushing to class on icy roads for class at 7:30am was not a pretty picture especially after arriving home at my slum area apartment at 12:00am and studying until 2:00am. I was in good physical shape due to years of training in high school for boxing and having plenty of exercise in college with the quartet guys playing tennis and lifting weights. It was a good thing because my schedule was brutal. Continue reading “Sinking Sand/Solid Rock – An Anthology #10 Seminary”