Summer reflections from a busy seminarian…

“More than anything this summer, I was gifted with a deeper understanding of holiness such as I have never experienced before. Meeting someone as they are about to go into surgery, or as they are lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer is a remarkable event in itself. But the fact that these people would also honor me with their story and share prayer with me is a privilege beyond what I can articulate. God is surely present in all things, and one way in which we can experience God most directly is through coming to a place where we can share our true selves with one another.”

~ Michelle Meech, CDSP 3rd year MDiv Student

Michelle MeechBefore I get into the details, I am pleased to report that I took full advantage of alternative transportation options this summer.  Starting with my trip to Olympia from Berkeley on the train, to the award-winning bus system of Olympia, to the paved multi-use trails on which I biked to and from the hospital and then back on the train for my return trip to CDSP… I was rarely in a car all summer.  On goes the effort to reduce my carbon footprint!  Although, there was one plane trip… to Philadelphia.

In early June, the Episcopal Preaching Foundation sponsored the Preaching Excellence Program at Villanova University outside of Philadelphia. There were eight students representing CDSP who braved the hot, humid weather of the East Coast to join with other Episcopal seminarians from across the country for a week of fellowship and learning.  The Beatitudes was the passage of choice and I heard so many wonderful sermons from my fellow students that listening to eight to ten sermons in a day really was a joy (although a bit draining). We were even given the gift of a rather powerful thunderstorm one night – not a big deal for people who live in other parts of the country but for those of us on the West Coast, it was a rare treat.

After leaving Philadelphia, I jumped right into CPE (Clinical Pastoral Education) at Providence St. Peter Hospital in beautiful Olympia, WA. This was my first unit of CPE and while there are many adjectives that could describe my experience, I will simply say that it was profound. I knew that a great deal of the success of a CPE program rests on the skill of the supervisor and I was not disappointed with mine. Beverly Hartz is compassionate, intuitive and bold in her approach with her students and is creative with the structure of the program. In addition, being a part of the Palliative Care team gave me an opportunity to learn more about and be with and advocate for people who cope with difficult and debilitating health issues.

More than anything this summer, I was gifted with a deeper understanding of holiness such as I have never experienced before.  Meeting someone as they are about to go into surgery, or as they are lying in a hospital bed dying of cancer is a remarkable event in itself.  But that these people would also honor me with their story and share prayer with me is a privilege beyond what I can articulate. God is surely present in all things and one way in which we can experience God most directly is through coming to a place where we can share our true selves with one another.

While it was a full summer with little down time, this past summer was also the most formative three months of my life. I give great thanks to God for all and I look forward to my final year at CDSP.

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2 Comments on “Summer reflections from a busy seminarian…”


  1. What an exciting summer you had. I wish I had some of the same experiences. I too am a train traveler. This last summer I traveled from Palm Springs to LA and then to Seattle by train; I went to Mass at St. Pauls in Seattle (AngloCatholic parish with female rector, Mother Melissa Skelton) then by train from Seattle to Chicago where I sang in the choir for Corpus Christi at Church of the Atonement (AngloCatholic parish, gay rector, female assistant rector, Mother Jackie Cameron, MD). If God meant us to fly, She would have given us wings!


  2. Michelle–
    What a rich experience your CPE was! However your life of ministry unfolds, I know that this past summer will stand out as a high water mark…

    Thank you for the amazing work you are doing–internally and externally.


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