Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Coming Soon: Nauvoo

I’m sooooo excited. Approximately two hours ago, I got off the phone with the historic sites coordinator for Community of Christ. I had applied for a fellowship that would involve living in Nauvoo, Illinois for part of this upcoming summer, giving tours for the church. Although I was quite confident I’d get into the program, I didn’t know officially until now. But I’m in! I made it! I’ll be spending a chunk of my summer in Nauvoo as an employee of Community of Christ! Woo hoo!

The fellowship typically lasts from late May until mid-August, but due to my family situation, I’ll be able to participate in a limited capacity between late June and early August. Truth be told, I’d love to do this even if I had to do it for free by myself. But, as luck would have it, I’ll be paid and I get to take my whole family with me! They’ll put us up in some family housing, probably in some historic residence or another. If that weren’t exciting enough, I’ve been told that by the time we arrive, Nauvoo is likely to have a grocery store! Double woo hoo! And wifi! Triple woo hoo!

One component of the fellowship involves taking a course on church history. The class is likely to begin before I arrive in Nauvoo, but I’m encouraged to participate once I get there, and I definitely want to. I don’t need the college credit that I would get for the class if I were there for the full thing, so that’s not a concern. It doesn’t sound like it’s mandatory for me to participate in the course, given my situation, but the historic sites coordinator sounds really eager for me to be a part of everything. He seems to think I can contribute a lot to the class, as well as to the fellowship more generally. He said he thinks I’ll be really good for the program and that the program will be really good for me. I think he really meant it, and I’m flattered. I feel the same way.

This is really terrific timing for this kind of opportunity to arise. For one thing, I’ve never been as interested in church history as I am today. But more importantly, I think it will be extremely poignant to spend my summer in a city whose history is a rich part both of the religious institution I am in the midst of leaving (the LDS Church) and the religious institution into which I am currently moving (Community of Christ). Granted, I could visit Nauvoo 10 years from now and it would still have that historical relevance. But I don’t think it would strike me the same way as it will right now, when I am at a crossroads in my own life. Nauvoo is like the physical, geographical manifestation of that crossroads, in about as literal a fashion as is possible. In many respects, it is the city where the two faith traditions split. I struggle to articulate my feelings, but suffice it to say, I really think there will be something very existentially profound about my living in Nauvoo, working for Community of Christ, and this particular juncture in my life. I’m deliriously happy about it.

*Note: that lovely photo at the top of this post is credited to Michael Whiffen and is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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