So it begins.
If you had asked me eight months ago not if but where I would be attending seminary I would have laughed in your face. No offense; it’s just that the thought had quite literally NEVER occurred to me. Until it did. And then the thought would not release itself from my brain or my heart and I found myself tentatively asking my husband one day, what would you think if…
Isn’t that the way big things always begin? With some ridiculously outlandish idea that turns into your actual honest to goodness life?
Now, if you’re wondering how a full-time working mom of three just casually goes back to get her Masters of Divinity, let me assure you there are no dorms or cross country moves involved. For starters, living on campus and romping around with frat boys is mostly not the vision I have for my 50 year-old self, nor one that any sane college coed would want!
So this is my classroom.
Most of the work my classmates and I do is online and then we get the privilege and pleasure of seeing each other three times a year on campus, where we drink beer and talk about the meaning of life just like regular college kids.
So, after weeks of online discussion boards, misunderstood posts, obscure assignments, and reading far too much theological interpretation without the benefit of, well…interpretation, I finally met my 22 online classmates in person. And can I just say: they do not disappoint. They are in this thing heart and soul, not to mention piercings and tattoos.
We hail from all over the U.S., from a variety of denominations, and our reasons for studying theology are as diverse as our political leanings and the ages on our driver’s licenses. But these are people ready to build bridges across those divides. There’s a common thread of humanity, of vision for a brighter future, of hope that, together, we can and will heal the heart of a broken world.
It’s not easy. The first quarter so far has expanded my brain (which likely explains all the headaches) with the likes of David Hume, St. Augustine, Martin Luther, Karl Barth, Frederick Schleiermacher (try saying that three times fast) and a host of other brilliant minds; and challenged the way I look at people and things like systemic oppression, racial and socio-economic privilege, and LGBTQ justice. You know — a whole lot of things I have been, for the most part, happily in the dark about.
We are not residential students and not solely online so ours is called the Journey. It’s fitting. And together we will find our way.
Life is not meant to be experienced in a vacuum. And even though I was ready to be home which means typing away online rather than having deep discussions in person, I am already looking forward to sharing the same breathing space with my classmates again soon.
As for you — some day you may find yourself in need of a prayer; desperate for peace as you witness the end of life of a dearest; sitting in a pew looking for words of inspiration; looking for insights from a teacher; or simply needing to hold the hand of a kind military chaplain who just gets it. And when that happens, I pray you’ll be lucky enough to be looking into the face of one of these beautiful souls.
So be it.