I am graduating from seminary tomorrow, friends. Saturday morning.
In August 2004, two things began. My seminary experience, and Little Wren, growing in my belly.
To say I had no idea what would happen with those two things is quite the understatement. Such changes in both, such changes in me. But we survived. My seminary, my daughter, and me. We all survived.
I have attended an evangelical seminary. My first semester, I resigned myself to "flying under the radar." I told friends, and myself, that it was like learning a foreign language. "I don't have to believe Monsieur Thibaux est un ingénieur," I explained, "I just have to learn to say he is."
I stopped seminary, temporarily, I thought, to have Little Wren. I prepared to go back, and shortly before it was time, my world cracked in two. My little baby girl was diagnosed with cancer.
"I will never go back," I told a friend, flatly. I had nothing to say. Why would I be a minister?
But Spirit wants what it wants. Little Wren healed, and I healed. I went back to school.
And then ... it was back. Cancer.
I stopped seminary again. We did cancer again. She healed, I healed. I went back to school.
Okay, that's not exactly the timeline. She healed. I went back to school. I healed. Yes, that's a more accurate representation.
I found my voice. And I found nurturing professors who encouraged me to use that voice. No, I did not have to believe Monsieur Thibaux was an engineer. Explain to them why it was not so, give sources, make educated statements.
They learned more about what a Unitarian Universalist is. And I learned that "evangelical" is most definitely not synonymous with "fundamentalist." I have been surrounded by people who are not homophobic, nor judgmental. I have been surrounded by professors who genuinely live their faith in a way that is awe-inspiring to me.
Along the way, through this blog, I became friends with people, people who reached out to me, wept with me, encouraged me, mentored me. Friends who saw my heart be broken, read words that said I would never go into the ministry, never return to seminary. Friends who were there when I said, "I'm going back to seminary."
You shared your stories with me. Your own stories of cancer, of seminary, of family, of hard times, of good times. In the same way that seminary shaped me, you shaped me. Your stories have become a part of me.
They call it "ministerial formation." It's seminary, and preaching, and life, and CPE, and internship, and all the other things that help you find your identity as a religious professional.
So many of you have formed me. Fussed at me, argued with me, laughed with me, made me feel loved.
I love you, too.