March 7, 2014

Pursuing Flexibility

            Journeying to Myanmar is a regular and enjoyable pilgrimage for me.  I get to witness the ever expanding work of Myanmar Institute of Theology, check in on how our shared Doctor of Ministry students are faring, and learn a bit more of the promise of the emerging democracy here.

            I arrived close to on time last evening, but my luggage did not.  Evidently it is enjoying an extra day in Seoul.  I first learned that this was the case as a young woman met me coming off the plane.  I assumed that she had good news about my transportation or was going to expedite customs for me, given my lofty status as a seminary president; no, she said I needed to file a missing luggage report, which was my first clue that indeed it was.
            The contents are of special import this year as I am transporting diplomas for our first ten Doctor of Ministry graduates.  Further, my doctoral regalia, which equips me with the pomp to present them, is part of heavy load yet to arrive.  There are also books for the upcoming course, as well as the usual personal items (all sorely needed). 
             As regular travelers know, there is little one can do to hurry the process.  One simply has to file the requisite report, identifying the colors and shape of one’s missing bags.  As I heard myself tell the agent that it would be a “disaster,” if the luggage did not arrive by Friday evening, I had to chuckle.  A “disaster” in Myanmar usually involves loss of life and destruction of natural resources.
            When I explained my quandary to Maung Maung Yin, Vice-Principal at MIT, he said “we usually find something to give them until the real thing arrives.”  What a wonderful, non-anxious response!  We will do what is possible, what is in our control, a lesson honed through patient endurance of hardship. 
Flexibility is a wonderful grace.  It allows one to separate the essential from the extras.  So what if I must go to dinner tonight with the Principal, Vice-Principal, commencement speaker, and other dignitaries in the same clothes I travelled in?  Having the opportunity to share a meal with them is far more important than what I am wearing.
And if the luggage does not appear tonight, I will borrow a choir robe from the Ywama Baptist Church and put on the presidential bling, which I did carry with me. That should allow me to confer degrees with sufficient—and flexible—dignity.

Molly T. Marshall

Central prepares women and men for seeking God, shaping church, and serving humanity.

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