By Annie Talton
When I think of my spiritual and communal life leading up to joining the Capital Fellows program, in college and especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, I think of the image of the deer panting for water in Psalm 42.
As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. Psalm 42:1
The loss of connection we’ve experienced during COVID has shown that we are designed for authentic community. Moreover, while college for me was immensely formative, it was also scattered with seasons of spiritual drought, mental health struggles, lost battles with sin, and disconnection.
Before the Kick-Off Retreat, John Kyle, the Director of the Capital Fellows program, notified us that we would share testimonies the first week. I was nervous and skeptical of sharing so quickly to a group of strangers. I was fully prepared to armor up the vulnerable parts of my story. But God was at work at that retreat center. The Holy Spirit was thick and tangible, like rain pouring on a dusty field. (It also rained some days to add to the irony). I soon realized that around me were not 15 complete strangers, but brothers and sisters who share a common purpose in Christ, and who, before our lives were even spoken into existence, God had ordained to undergo this formative season together.
The more we vulnerably shared, the more God revealed how strands of each of our stories are being interwoven to form a tapestry of distinct patterns, bound in our interconnectedness through the body of Christ. Take it from me, this group could have only been knit together by God and God alone. Ours is a God who transforms brokenness into beauty – dust into fertile soil.
During his testimony, one of the fellows shared that in times of doubt, he likes to think of how birds have two diaphragms, which allows them to have continuous, non-directed air flow and thus fly tirelessly. This reminded me of the Wood Thrush, a type of bird that can actually harmonize with itself. Wrapped inside a little bird body is a metaphor of the body of Christ.
In Romans 12, Paul writes, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given us…” We are various pitches in the same body and the fruit of our collaboration is an exquisite harmony. God is our continuous, non-directed airflow, as He is outside the constraints of time and space. In Life Together (one of the fellows’ summer reading books), Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us that “It is grace, nothing but grace, that we are allowed to live in community with Christian brethren.” Our body, our harmony, is a complete gift… And all of this is depicted in the anatomy of a little Wood Thrush. (God is so cool, right?!)
In her poem, “The Wild Iris,” Louise Gluck uses the life cycle of a wild iris to write about her battle with an eating disorder. Wild iris flowers completely die underground for a season then re-sprout. Gluck writes, “it is terrible to survive as consciousness buried in the dark earth.” After a season underground, I arrived at Capital Fellows and “from the center of my life came a great fountain, deep blue shadows on azure seawater” (the last line in Gluck’s poem).
Hallelujah! The cultivator of our lives is an almighty and loving God – One who holds onto us by a string in moments of despair; who whispers to the recesses of our hearts that we are beloved; who shows our stories through the blooming of wild irises; who reveals the body of Christ in a tiny Wood Thrush; or who intimately meets us in this microcosm of the kingdom of God manifesting in a group of 16 Capital Fellows. We have a pretty neat thing going here. All glory be to God.
Pictures from the Week
Mastering the "Box of Awkward" selfies at the Capital Fellows Kickoff Retreat
Emy and me enjoying the misty mountain scenery and each other's company at the retreat center
Celebrating Will's birthday with his new host family, the Tucker's
Become A Capital Fellow in 2022-23
We are now receiving applications for Season 16 of the Capital Fellows program!
Most fellows work in the marketplace - for companies, nonprofits, government offices. Three Capital Fellows work at our church each year as well. For these roles, we are looking for a worship fellow, a children's ministry fellow, and a missions fellow. These are special Capital Fellows opportunities because the Capital Pres Family not only pays your salary, but also pays your Capital Fellows program fees!!
The Season 16 program year runs from late August 2022 through mid-May 2023. If you are a college senior or recent graduate - or know someone that is - we would love to hear from you!
Pray for the Capital Fellows
Thank you for praying for the Capital Fellows each week!
As Season 15 settles into the patterns of post-college life, please be praying for stamina, as well as time of rest and reflection. Pray that they would serve one another well as their community forms.
Want to pray for the Capital Fellows throughout the year? Download this handy prayer guide for your phone or tablet.
Benefits of The Fellows Initiative
You probably already know that Capital Fellows is one of 32 fellows programs in The Fellows Initiative network. Capital Fellows benefit from our affiliation with The Fellows Initiative in many ways. One of those ways is that all Capital Fellows alumni receive a 33% tuition discount at Reformed Theological Seminary for 5 years. For more information, please contact us.
If you know a church in the US or Canada that would benefit from joining The Fellows Initiative by launching a new fellows program. Please contact TFI by visiting their website.
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