If you know anything about me, you probably know I love the TV show, The Office. I can (and do) watch the show over and over again. It’s a lifeline when times are hard and a joy when life is good. I don’t know if it’s the dry humor or the brilliant writing or the incredible detail of the show that makes me love it so much, but I do in fact love this show.
When I graduated from college, I remember I was right at the end of the series. I wrote a blog post about all the things I was feeling and experiencing as I was watching the end of a show I loved so much after a season in a place I loved so much with people I loved so much. You can imagine a lot of tears were shed. As I ended graduate school this May, I found myself in the opposite scenario – the pilot season of The Office. Beautifully, I also discovered The Office Ladies podcast right as I was starting to rewatch the show. If you haven’t checked out this podcast, you should stop reading this right now and go check it out! This podcast walks through every episode of The Office with Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey as they reminisce and highlight behind-the-scenes details “only 2 people who were there could tell you.” Needless to say, I love this podcast almost as much as I love the show.
Last night I was sitting on the porch, listening to the podcast episode about the Christmas Party in season 2. Of course, Jenna and Angela highlighted hilarious moments and fast facts and fun tidbits that brought a smile to my face. But, I sat on the porch with tears welling up in my eyes as they talked about what this episode, this show, these friendships meant to them. I had to take a step back to realize they were inadvertently describing my seminary experience. At the end of the Christmas Party episode, you find the characters playing in the snow in the parking lot and the end of their celebration. Spoiler – this was not a scripted event! The film crew shot this footage as the cast was going home after hours and hours of shooting, but they got caught up in the joy and the magic of manufactured snow in Los Angeles with dear friends. Jenna described this moment as real people living their lives, and it just happened to be on television.
That’s when it hit me. That’s what seminary was for me. Minus the being on television of course. But, I was just living my life – meeting my now wife, making lifelong friends, exploring a city, asking huge life questions. And I just happened to be getting my master’s degree. That is why that place and those people are so special to me. So difficult to leave behind. It was just life. And there were parts that were incredible, parts that were crushing, parts that truly knocked me off my footing. And it all added up to be this amazing experience of everyday things – like meals in Mackay dining hall, walks to the library, daily chapel services, and, yes, lots of class too – that shaped and changed my life and my calling forever.
So I write these thoughts for a couple of reasons:
1) Listen to The Office Ladies podcast and rewatch this incredible series.
2) I pray we can all not only appreciate the arts for the ways in which they form who we are and how we experience the world, but also support the arts in this difficult time and all times. This show is hugely important in my life. And other folks have shows and music and paintings that have been with them through thick and thin. We must not take that for granted.
and finally 3) I’m imagining I’m not the only one who is processing and reflecting and feeling all the feelings in this time as seasons change and our lives are all over the place. I write so you know you’re not alone. So that I know I am not alone. I write because it’s the little things like finding your notes from your first ever intro class or a now old picture from when your haircut was truly horrendous or hearing that person’s voice over the phone – it’s the average, unnoticeable, little things that add up to make us who we are. And that’s pretty darn special.
May we actually take a moment to reflect today – maybe on your favorite show or podcast, maybe on life changes you’re encountering, maybe on big questions you’ve been too afraid or too tired to tackle. But reflection is a gift and we must not take that for granted.
“There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” – Pamela Beesley Halpert, Season 9 Episode 25