Embracing My Beginner-ness

-David Gorman, Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School

An integral part of Grace-on-the-Hill is our weekly formation times on Wednesday afternoons. Last week, Abbott invited us to draw an informal map of Richmond–nothing fancy or incredibly accurate, but something depicting notable landmarks from our year so far.

My housemates took off, grabbed markers, and began drawing on the large sheet of chart paper. I sat back comfortably and observed, hoping no one would notice me, much like a student slouching low in the back of the class.

This exercise brought up a fact I had been trying to avoid: I don’t know much about Richmond. I’ve had to rely on my housemates and Google Maps for directions. Neighborhoods and districts are a mystery (what’s The Fan?). Several of the chain restaurants mean nothing to me as a Pennsylvanian (when asked if I wanted to go to Cook Out, I responded, “A cookout? Who’s having a cookout?”).

I’ve struggled to be patient with myself in these moments. Something that drew me to Grace-on-the-Hill was its attention to a theology of place. I want to know and engage the place where I live and work and serve and befriend.

Of course, I should extend grace to myself. After all, I’ve been living in Richmond for only three weeks! To counter my frustration, I’ve been trying to focus on what I do know about Richmond. I know rock-hopping on the James River, the famous Mamma Zu aroma, the serenity of Hollywood Cemetery, the inspiration in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I know the smiling people of St. Andrew’s and the dedicated students and staff of Anna Julia Cooper School.

I have much to learn and experience, which can be irritating at times. It reminds me of when I was an impatient 12-year-old asking my mom, “When is my growth spurt going to happen? I want to be tall now!”

The truth is I can’t know Richmond overnight. This is great news because it means I have a wonderfully rich journey ahead of me, one that will happen at its own pace.

Our poster with lots of blank space for new adventures.

Our poster with lots of blank space for new adventures.

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