(Photo courtesy of McCormick)

My name is Rev. J.C. Cadwallader and I am the Director of Recruitment and Admissions.  I’m pretty new at this gig…I just started in July, 2010 but I am certainly not new to McCormick.  And, I believe my experience as a student at McCormick can best be summed up in the analogy of getting stuck in this elevator as I was moving in to the 1400 building back in 2005.  Bear with me…

I had just arrived after a 2 day trip (15 hours of driving total) from North Carolina.  My roommate had already been settled in our apartment for a few days and it was just the two of us unloading the U-Haul.  On a high from not being in the car and full of anticipation for the next 3 years to come, we were happily hauling all of my belongings up to the 6th floor of the 1400 Building.  The mood was good…Jokes were hilarious, bumps in the walls or my furniture were minor and not even the one or two smashed fingers could get our spirits down.  The process of unpacking had gone pretty quickly until the final load.   We loaded up the elevator with my box spring and 2 coffee tables, the door shut and nothing.  We were no longer moving.  Uh oh.  So, we press the 6th floor button again and nothing.  We press other buttons and nothing.  Finally, we press the emergency button which turns out is simply a loud bell which can be heard across the floors.  Then, the voice of Diane Sinish, Director of Residence Life, is heard through the silence of the closed door and she was asking if we accidentally hit the button or if we were stuck.  We were stuck.  She assured us she would call for help and to hang tight.

This was the moment when my roommate remembered that she is a little bit claustrophobic.  Which means, it’s time to sing and dance.  When you’re stuck in an elevator with minimal space due to furniture and claustrophobia, the only thing left to do is to work with what you’ve got.  We had at least a foot and some inches each which was plenty of space to maximize by singing and dancing our hearts out.  Her mind was taken off of her fears and our spirits rose again with our original excitement to be at McCormick.  And, then, we hear another voice…the RA is just on the other side of the closed doors and we have no idea how long she’s been there.  Yes…she heard us.  We’re not sure how long she was standing there but that seems irrelevant because even hearing us for a moment was worrisome to us…this wasn’t exactly the first impression we wanted to offer to this new community we were longing acceptance in.  So, we laughed awkwardly and said we were fine to her inquiries of if we were ok or not. Eventually, the elevator got moving, I was officially moved into my new space and we were overwhelmed with anticipation for what was to come.

So, you might be wondering how this is analogous to my McCormick experience overall…well, here it is.  This brief experience of feeling anticipation for what was to come intersecting with what was immediately in front of me is what the educational experience is like at McCormick.  My roommate and I kept our minds on what was to come while dealing with what was immediately in front of us in the elevator. And, so it is as a student at McCormick.  Here, we are all students, preparing for what is ahead, for the ministry that we are each called to individually.  And, we learn with those who are around us, with the courses and authors, with friends and colleagues, with congregations and communities, with Spirit and struggle and we encourage one another to live into the ministry ahead that we are called to as individuals.

The goals of our students are set in the future for a life in ministry, whatever form that ministry may take.  And, during our time here at McCormick, we interact with one another, taking into to consideration the experience of the other and incorporating it into our learnings of who God is and what God is doing in the world through each of us.  The elevator has become a point of laughter (thankfully!), of memory that reminds us that there will be bumps along the road, unexpected hiccups or pauses.  And, while my sights are set on a ministry into the future, it reminds me that I must engage with the present in preparation for that future.

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