by Julia Oller, class of 2016
The spunky Texan who drove us from the airport spewed glowing facts about the post-grad program we had spent half a day traveling to. Trinity Forum Academy, she told Amy and me, is a place full of “intentional community” and “servant leadership,” a place of intensive learning and intensive fellowship.
A place that sounded a whole lot like Taylor.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about this. Why leave one place only to move to more of the same, minus the close friends and invested professors? My anxieties–about being the youngest person there, about feeling unqualified or ill-equipped next to the 20-somethings who came to TFA from jobs at Google or on Capitol Hill–added to the question marks bouncing around in my brain. I braced myself for an exhausting two days away.
We pulled in after dark, the lights of the Osprey Point lodge all we could see of the 15-acre property. Housing both TFA and a retreat/conference center, Osprey Point backs up to the Chesapeake Bay, where the 12 TFA students–known as “Fellows”– sail and crab in warmer weather.
Fellows and administrators flitted toward us the moment we stepped inside, handing us name tags and pointing us toward the coffee. We settled in and sat down to dinner, which, like all the meals and events over the weekend, was entirely Fellow-planned and executed. Their hospitality infused every detail, from the ever-present tray of scones to their willingness to answer my endless questions. Hospitality, it was explained to us, is one of TFA’s most defining characteristics, along with scholarship and service. On top of class hours and time set aside to work on their theses, the students work in the lodge each week cleaning toilets, making beds, and cooking meals. At Trinity, body, mind, and spirit are rightfully treated as an inseparable trio.
The next two days were a whirl of speakers, discussion groups, panels, tours, worship services, and interviews. Amy and I took some time to catch up with current Fellow and Honors alum Andrew Whitworth (’15), and stole away to the pier for a few moments of solitude. Somehow, despite the jam-packed schedule, I felt that my heaviness of heart, like my overstuffed suitcase, had contracted into a surprising calm. Yes, I had been the youngest applicant. Yes, I didn’t work in the judicial department of review or attend an Ivy League school. But that didn’t seem to matter. Bringing a faithful presence with a willingness to learn, give, and engage in the everyday was all that was required.
And it may sound like Taylor, but I’ve decided that maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. One more year of intensive Christian community might be exactly the time of reflection I need before stepping into the wider world. Besides, the scenery itself is enough of a change.
There aren’t many cornstalks in Maryland.