It was just FIVE WORDS

 continuing education pastors

I remember sitting in a one-week intensive class, watching a video by photographer Dewitt Jones.  He talked about his travels for National Geographic and how the scenes he captured and the people he met impacted his perspective on the world.

Jones talked about an interview with a life-seasoned woman known for her weaving. When he asked her what she thought about when she was weaving, the five words came. Five words that have stayed with me and changed me.

When I weave, I weave.

Rev. Kristina “Kris” Mares
M.Div., summa cum laude, 2015
Pastor, Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church, Salisbury, NC
Coordinator of Missional Engagement, Uwharrie District of The UMC

As a chronic multi-tasker, those words hit me straight in the heart and gut. While attending seminary at full-time status (9 credit hours a semester), I also pastored a small rural church, volunteered with a local moms organization, was married and parented five children. My life as a seminarian was busy. My husband also traveled four days a week for work, so weekend family life was on me. I was a great multi-tasker. But those five words…

When I weave, I weave.

Here was a woman who had lived life twice as long as I had. She was an “expert” in her field. And at the time of the interview, she was caring for a sick family member. She had a lot going on, too! But those five words…

When I weave, I weave.

What I learned at Hood Theological Seminary that day, and have continued to keep as a practice since then, was to be fully present in the activity I was doing at the time. No more multi-tasking. No more trying to listen in class, while texting a friend, while making a grocery list. No more watching a movie with my kids, while reading for class, while checking social media.

When I study for seminary, I study.

When I have coffee with someone, I listen.

When I am with my family, I play.

When I weave, I weave.

Those five words changed my approach to seminary, pastoring and life. Living with the wise words of the weaver, helped me graduate seminary with honors. The

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class schedules, with weekday and weekend options, paired well with pastoring and family life. The low tuition rates (and scholarship opportunities) allowed my family to pay cash for the training I needed to be a better pastor and administrator. The professors understood that although students were in seminary to learn and be challenged, we also needed to care for our families and our congregations and ourselves.

I remember one instance when I did not “weave” very well. I had a preaching project due, and one of my children became ill. Several doctor appointments invaded my time to study and prepare. I emailed my professor, and he said I would still present on the appointed day. I wasn’t ready, and my mind was with my child, not on preaching for class.

I got up and completed the task. Poorly. It was painful.

That professor held me accountable for the assignment and kept the class on schedule so that all could have their opportunity to preach. At the end of that class session, he pulled me aside and told me to take another week, perfect the sermon and delivery, and let him know when I was ready to try again. Grace.

Accountability and grace permeate the campus of Hood Theological Seminary. It is a place that held me accountable to a higher standard of preaching, pastoral care, theological understanding and ministerial practice. And even though life was busy and hard, Hood was a place where I found a deep sense of grace. But those five words…

When I weave, I weave.


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