For me, this year with MA has been life-altering.
In the past, I had many questions about spiritual things that were either not answered or were answered in an unsatisfactory fashion by my traditional faith community.
When I first began Mimesis Academy, I was surprised to discover that questions, uncertainty, and being wrong were a welcome and even necessary part of the experience. There was complete freedom to explore with no judgment present in the process. Andre and MaryAnne modeled love, acceptance, and the beautiful majesty of an ongoing conversation with God as we studied various topics.
I don’t know how to write what Mimesis Academy means to me, what has happened to me during the course of this year. I would like it to sound wonderful, to use words that convey the immensity of the experience. But I know about words. They are sorely lacking in their ability to convey something large and full and rich and constantly expanding. Words cannot contain freedom and chaos and blossoming and seeking.
When I signed up for MW in October, I instantly wondered if I had made a very expensive, bad decision. I ordered many of the books that they were reading in the 2017 course and began digesting them in advance. I was alternately excited and horrified that I had committed to this year-long study. Finally, January arrived and we began.
In the first months, I often felt that I was in way over my head because there were many who had already completed one year of this. They were familiar with terminology and authors and concepts in a way that I was not. Writing those first assignments was daunting. I was still searching to find the “right” answers to the questions. What did they want me to understand so that I could be “correct?” It took awhile to get my bearings and to believe I was free to ask any question at all, to express ideas that could be really, really “wrong,” and that there was no need to impress anyone at all. Everyone had a voice and we were so encouraged to find that voice.
One of the greatest parts of MA has been the discussions and relationships that have evolved. It may well be the most significant part of the whole experience. (This is where the words really break down for me.) I could not have navigated the new ideas, the changes in life perspectives, the shifting of my entire spiritual foundation without the companionship, encouragement, and challenging conversation with the student community. (John Kirstein, Al Carden, Andre van Wyck, Patricia-Anne, JoDee, Susann, Larize – each one has helped me, spurred me on. I wish I could meet and see you all at least once. You have become a part of who I am today and part of who I will become in the future.)
At first, I thought that there would certainly be a point where we would be restricted in our conversations to the topic at hand. Outside books, authors, ideas, would surely be discouraged or forbidden. I was sure this would happen. It never did. From the others, I heard of books and materials that I hungrily consumed. I was free to ask questions!! It was almost unbelievable. The world outside my traditional faith community was so large and there were so many ideas that I had never heard before. It was not dangerous. Questions were not dangerous. They were a gateway to freedom and growth and the discovery of a God who was more loving than I had ever dreamed. The goodness of God was not just a nice concept. It was real.
While the basic thrust of MA was academic/intellectual, one of the side benefits for me was the discovery of the heart. At this point I venture to say this combination of heart and mind emphases was both an intentional and inevitable part of the Academy structure. Mimesis Academy changed both my understanding of God, myself, and the meaning of life, and it ushered in a heart experience with Love that will never stop expanding. This came about in a particularly individual fashion and was not a prescribed event purposely planned by the curriculum. I notice that it has been part of the experience of every student, but comes about at different times and in different ways for each one. It is an adventure of the greatest kind!
Mimesis Academy is one of the best decisions I have made in my life.