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Friday, September 9, 2011



Each Field Education syllabus opens with this reminder from the poet, Rainer Maria Rilke ( :

Be patient with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.  Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.  And the point is, to live everything.  Live the questions now.  Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

                                                                 Rainer Maria Rilke,
                                                                        Letters to a Young Poet

Field Education at Vanderbilt Divinity School engages the pedagogical model of experiential education, learning through combining theology and practice in  ongoing conversation. We find that well crafted questions are some of the most profound teaching tools in this work.  Below is a "working list" of provocative, engaging questions compiled from conversations with our colleagues, supervisors in "the field" without whom we could not do this work.   These are questions that we can utilize with students – and with ourselves – as we continue to "practice" ministry.

We invite you to add to the list, to help us think about what it means to "live" our questions. 
  1. What assumptions could others make about your beliefs from experiencing your practice?  Are those assumptions safe?
  2. Where do you experience the presence of God in this situation?  Do you experience it as cmfort, challenge, mystery, etc?
  3. What would you pray for…what do you yearn for…in this situation?
  4. In what ways was this situation an occasion for your own spiritual growth?
  5. In what ways might this situation be a barrier to your own spiritual growth?
  6. Does this situation call to mind any Biblical images, motifs or characters?
  7. What kind of world view is operative in this event?
  8. What in this event describes the human dilemma that cannot be avoided? 
  9.  Where do we find alienation and discord?      
  10. What would forgiveness look like in this situation?
  11. What is there to give thanks for in this event?
  12. Are there signs of healing/wholeness in this situation
  13. What might it "cost" to be faithful?
  14. In what areas have your beliefs and commitments changed?
  15. What do you want to know more about?
  16. What were you surprised by?

Trudy Hawkins Stringer

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