All About You: Penny Lewis

Penny was an Anglican grad of CCS in 1984.  She writes:

Penny Lewis

“My learnings, experiences and reflections from my time as a student the Centre for Christian Studies are like an ‘apps’ etched into my brain, available for down loading any time they are needed.

As I moved along from CCS to Trinity College at U of T, one image has remained with me. It was the image of the maids [who look after the men’s residence, you know, cleaning for them, changing the beds, cleaning the washrooms etc] sitting around a table in the basement of the college, sharing animated conversation and laughter as they ate their lunch. Upstairs in the very formal dining hall, up on a dais was a long rectangle table. Here, as I remember, sat two or three male professors eating their lunch in silence. One scene brought to mind dancing Sarah’s Circle, the other Climbing Jacob’s Ladder. I always felt that at some level CCS was about inclusivity whereby as Trinity, it was about exclusivity. It was the learning from CCS that helped me thrive in the rather rarified atmosphere at Trinity.

The other day a friend remarked to me, ‘I wish our minister in his sermons could help me cope with the challenges of life, rather than going on and on about Isaiah.” It was Shelly Finson at CCS who taught me about theological reflection, about how my story, the world’s story and the biblical story were threads of the same tapestry. God’s grace and blessings are there for us when our hearts are open to hear.

I went into CCS as a ‘girl’. I came out as a strong feminist woman. The process was not without much kicking and screaming. I was brought up to reach out to others from a charity model. CCS opened my eyes to justice-making through the door of feminism. I am now a retired priest who works in my parish as an honorary assistant. When the incumbent asked me if I would work on outreach in the parish, I said I can no longer do charity work but would love to draw together a group to work on social justice issues. This is a direct legacy from my years as a student at CCS. It has helped me grandparent in such a way that all 7 of my grandchildren know about looking at life through the lens of justice. I’m not saying they always practice it, but the seeds – I do believe – the seeds have been planted.

My life on a personal and professional level, has been enriched by my time as a student at CCS. My sadness is that a way has yet to be found to connect those Anglicans who are training for ordained ministry to CCS and the richness it has to offer to its students.”