Graduation Dinner Reflection

At our graduation dinner last night the other four Master’s in Theology graduates and I were asked to submit short reflection related to our time as students and now graduates of the Theology Master’s Program at St, Catherine University. I wound up writing mine straight from the heart, so I’m afraid it was less about my favorite class or my most uplifting experience, but at least it had the virtue of being honest.

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I must admit that last week’s graduation was bittersweet. I was thrilled to be graduating, oh my goodness, yes, especially with my family there, and with my friend Sherri (who was absolutely glowing and stunningly beautiful); but at the same time I was fighting a migraine and on some fairly heavy-duty painkillers (!) and my fibromyalgia had me so sore that we went straight home afterwards instead of going out—where I sat around in my brand-new academic robes and hood and gorged myself on takeout pizza and watched bad WWII movies on Netflix with my husband George. Okay, so that part was fun, actually, and I wish we had thought to take photos of me stuffing mushroom pizza in my face wearing my graduation regalia!
The bittersweet part is that people keep asking me what is next, and I stumble around, trying to come up with something funny to say, and I’m at a loss. The dream that has kept me going, through the myriad of chronic pain conditions that has required me to drop classes and seek numerous extensions and medical leaves of absence (thanks Bill! (our super-understanding theology department head)) has been pastoral ministry, especially the idea of chaplaincy. That’s the whole reason I entered this program. And now these chronic pain conditions are making it impossible for me to hold down even a part-time job. Or be a reliable volunteer, much less work full-time as a hospice chaplain. So there is triumph in the degree, but grief and uncertainty when i contemplate my immediate future.
Still, there are several treasures  I will take away from this outstanding program to help guide me in my coming journey. I have met so many amazing, compassionate, loving people here at St. Kate’s, both faculty and students, who I am honored to count as role models, mentors, and friends. I know that your prayers go with me, just as mine go with you, and that our journeys together do not end here, but in many ways have only just begun. I am excited to continue growing as both a scholar of theology and as a pastoral minister. My studies here have opened so many doors! I feel I have only dunked my toe in the water. And, too, I will take all of your stories with me. I have had a rough time, yes. But I am not the only one. So many of you have done battle with your own pain, and done it with immense grace and courage, and I cannot tell you how much I admire you and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Finally, I take with me the knowledge that I need to trust in the process, as Deb (my mentor and pastoral ministry prof.) told me recently. This is very difficult for me, (trust is not my strong point) but I know she is right—I need to learn to take better care of myself, and learn to trust that the Holy Spirit will lead me in the right direction, even if I don’t know where in the heck I am going now, beyond more physical therapy. After all, Someone helped me through comps!

friday eight: hymns

Courtesy of my friends over at RevGalBlogPals, here is today’s Friday Five:

Friday Five: Favorites Old and New

You know how sometimes you just want to have a hymn sing?

Well, today is that day.

Share with the group five favorite hymns or praise songs or songs that bring you close to the Spirit (that’s a pretty wide net!) and why they are special to you.

Bonus if you can share Youtube videos or audio files of one or two or more.

Well, okay, here are my efforts. It will take the workings of the Holy Spirit for me to manage the media aspect of this…

1. Prayer of St. Francis

2. Ave Maria, by Schubert. Not really a sing-along, but the ultimate Catholic hymn.

3. Be Not Afraid. I’ve sung this in the shower, in the hospital, at my dad’s funeral. It comforts me whenever I feel scared and alone, or sad and grieving.

4.  Hymn Tune Thaxted/O God Beyond All Praising. Bittersweet. My wedding processional, and my beloved friend Emilie’s funeral processional.

5. Holy God We Praise They Name. Every time I sing this, I go straight back to childhood, sitting between my parents at Incarnation Church during mass. Classic.

I can’t stop at five, though. so this will be my Friday Eight!

6. For All the Saints. Another classic. I choose this one for my mom’s funeral, appropriately enough, I still think.

7. All Creatures of Our God and King. Based on the poetry of St. Francis of Assisi. (Recessional at mom’s funeral. She loved St. Francis!)

8. And, of course, my Grandma’ Resch’s favorite: How Great Thou Art.

 

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I had to add these prayers to my blog. I know I am not the only one who struggles with depression, and these prayers are simply beautiful. There is even a prayer for those contemplating suicide–by Mother Theresa, of all people. I’m not sure why, I just never thought she would understand the depths of despair depression can lead to. But judging by her prayer, she did.

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