(butterfly, photo by Lynda McKinney Lambert)
“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than
the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anaïs Nin
Eventually, it happens.
We begin to think about universal questions asked by every human being from
recorded history to the present moment.
Who am I?
Why am I here at this precise time?
What is my purpose?
Where am I going?
For a large part of my life, I accepted that my art and writing life were separate
from my spiritual journey. During years of rigorous academic studies, there never
was a dialogue that addressed fundamental questions concerning my creativity
being connected to my personal faith and theology. I never questioned or explored
my worldview. Well, in fact, I didn't know I even had a worldview. I was unaware
that everyone has a worldview and personal theology. This concept never came
up in any classroom discussions, so I kept my personal faith walk private.
I arrived at the Geneva College in Pennsylvania to begin my career as a tenured
professor. My title was "Professor of Fine Arts and Humanities." It was thrilling for
me to see my name and title inscribed on a golden plate on the door of my spacious
new office in an elegant, three-story Victorian mansion. My new life was everything
I could have envisioned during my years of preparations. I loved the professional experience I stepped into on a private, century-old campus. I had achieved the
desire of my heart. Dreams do come true.
My classroom duties began at the beginning of the fall semester. Initially, I faced
a challenge because this college's core philosophy is the integration of faith and
learning. That meant I was expected to teach every course in such a way that my
Judeo-Christian faith would be central to my teaching. How would I incorporate
my faith into my classroom courses? How could I find a synthesis between academic pursuits and the "integration of faith and learning?”
Previous training and research in higher education left me in a quandary about how
I would accomplish the college's mission, for the universities I attended are entirely
secular. Even though I thrived in my studies, there was a part of my human self that
formal education never addressed. Worse yet, I was unaware of the gap. Part of me
was missing, and I never realized it. Thus, my quest for discovering how to present
a personal Christian presence in my professional, academic, and creative life began.
Before starting my new job, I thought of my life as being divided into two boxes: sacred
and secular. I did not realize this is Dualism and is quite the opposite of God's historical Genesis account, he who created humanity as a reflection of the Divine. We were
created to be image-bearers of God.
With the dynamic new teaching adventure, my entire life was turned upside down. It seemed I was in a tailspin. I wanted to bring faith to my discipline. But years of training
and practice left me confused about the possibility of this.
One morning I made a request to God. "Would you please guide me? I am asking you
to be in my classrooms, to be with me as I deliver my lectures." I indeed had no idea
how this could possibly happen. As I tried to plan out my daily course activities for
each class, the integration of faith and learning was on my mind continuously. But I
had to figure this out even though it felt like the strangest request I ever made for
divine help. This concept was a crisis for me, and I sure needed help to partner with
my colleagues and students.
At first, I turned to the opening chapters of Genesis and saw them with a fresh understanding. As described by Genesis, the world has a logical created structure,
and it is filled with living forms. As I thought more about those forms made from the
earth, I envisioned God in a garden with his hands covered in clay an