Today we sat our last exam for the year. Walking out into the sunshine after placing that pen down for the last time this year, I could have cried. The mix of relief and complete and utter mental fatigue left my head spinning and I simply stood there for a few moments to collect myself. These last few weeks have felt like a blur of information input and output, my brain working faster than I was aware it could, and the exams seemingly never ending.
Yet, this afternoon, sitting in a lounge room watching YouTube videos and drinking cider with friends felt a little like freedom. We had finished our first year of learning together and it felt blissful to be able to not have study to rush back to. For all the bliss that this blend of fatigue and relief has brought, this year has been a good one.
This year I was reminded that the best moments of learning are not had in isolation, but in cafes with books scattered among empty coffee cups from the hours in the same place with friends. The best moments have been those with friends in which we wandered together through a translation in Greek or Hebrew, fumbling over words and figuring out the grand puzzle of these languages that we never thought we could grasp. The best moments have been realising the connections between stories that were previously isolated in our minds, as church history stopped being a tale of goodies and baddies and became one of God’s people wrestling to find faithfulness. The best moments have been those in which we were overwhelmed and a friend helped us through with words, chocolate, or coffee. The best moments have been lecturers who sign off e-mails with hilarity and care for your wellbeing more than your marks. The best moments of learning are the community I have learned in.
This year I have taken three holidays with people I didn’t know a year ago. We’ve gone on adventures together to a farm, to the mountains and to the beach. These people are unlike any that I’ve ever known – they are also completely unlike me. We are a strange group thrown together by God’s grace, and it works. Our differences leave us perplexed by each other somedays, and tense other days, but we have become a little like a family. This becomes clear when you see the quiet ways people care for one another. This becomes clear in the little jokes and high fives and, in my case, occasional hugs. This becomes clear, most of all, in the few words “I’m praying for you.” These strangers have somehow become precious to me. For this I am thankful.
And so, at the end of my first year at Moore Theological College, I’m beyond tired. I could sleep for weeks, and I suppose now I can. In the middle of the wrestling with how t0 stay well while working hard, the insanity of training for the Spartan Beast, and the self-doubt that often crippled me, I found joy. I found joy in this community. I’m beyond tired; but I’m also beyond thankful.