Tight Bud Waiting to Unfold: Essay by Lynda McKinney Lambert

(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