Shannon Parrott is the 2019-2020 YTI Faith Fellow. Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, she is currently studying for her D.Phil. in Theology at the University of Oxford.
Dear Yellowstone Theological Institute, Merry Christmas!
It is hard to believe that as I write this letter Advent is here and Christmas is upon us. Time this term has flown by, but then again time always seems to be flying by. It is my hope that with each term, season, or year that passes that I have not been a passive passenger. Rather, my hope is to always be learning, to be open to otherness and new thoughts, and most importantly, to be teachable. And, indeed, I have received so much teaching this term.
Necessary to my studies is the acquisition of several additional languages, some of which I have delayed learning till next year. This term I started with German (Frohe Weinachten!), Rabbinic Hebrew, and Modern Hebrew (!חג מולד שמח). I have also continued in my Hebrew Bible seminar classes, which expose me to new ways of thinking. It is incredibly rich and challenging; I am continually humbled and honoured to be here and drinking it all in.
In addition to this I worked this term on a conference paper for SBL on feasting and Proverbs 9. I am so grateful for the opportunity to present my work and learn from other scholars at SBL. It was a change from my dissertation and has made me refreshed and ready to pick up my research again in the new year.
Reflection at Advent
Work aside, I am delighted that Advent/Christmas is here! It is my favourite season. There is something so cozy and calming about it (this of course implies a distaste and sadness about the franticness and commercialization that has come to be associated with the season). Advent is always a time of deep reflection for me; I never cease to be in awe about light coming into darkness, about the birth of hope, love, Christ in the midst of all the suffering, uncertainty, despair in our world. The coming of light simultaneously reminds me of how much I need that light in the darkness of my own heart and life and of the real presence of Christ in my own heart and life already. Moreover, it reminds me of how much the world needs the light in all of its darkness—and there seems oh so much of it—and of how the real presence of Christ is already present and working in the world.
Inviting Others in, Getting out in Creation
I suppose that my longing for light provides the fuel for how I spend my spare time. I love hosting people; welcoming others into my space and home, providing a place where they can experience peace and safety, where they can feel seen and known.
I also love being out in creation, enjoying the beacon of light that its beauty is. There are not too many green spaces in Oxford, but I do live near one of the largest ones called Port Meadow where I have gone on many walks.
Despite spending much of my work time reading and writing, I do enjoy reading in my spare time. Currently I am half way through Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and his Emissary, which is truly changing the way I think and look at the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
There are many other things I could mention that I enjoy doing, not least of all baking and cooking (there is nothing better than bringing joy to myself and others through good food!), friends, or even my cat, Lionel Richie.
It is with great gratitude I send this letter for the huge support that YTI has been for my studies!