Last night marked the end of something. Just around 10 pm I left the Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, having finished the last class of my MDiv at the school. I’m not totally done, since there are still a few weeks left on an online course from Calvin seminary, part of the requirement for the degree, but my time as a physical student has come to an end.
I’m conflicted about it. On the one hand, there should be a sense of jubilation, of a task accomplished, of anticipation, as the next steps on this journey present themselves. I do feel some of those, but they are overshadowed by the feelings held in the other hand, feelings of uncertainty, loss of identity (again), loss of relationships I have come to value highly, and loss of the regular affirmation coming from assignments and papers returned and appreciated. There’s lots of loss to temper the joy.
I don’t think I felt this way when I graduated with my BSc. over thirty years ago. Then, I was going to rush out and change the world, make my fortune, throw myself into all of the excitement, and challenge, the world has to offer. Relationships built there were quickly lost, as J and I ran down the road toward an endless future full of possibilities. Somewhere along the line we’ve realized our own immortality, found out we aren’t as “in charge” as we thought we were, and, while possibilities and excitement are still achievable, they are not as important as they once were.
The class last night was “Grief Crises & Pastoral Care” and I recognize I am grieving. The grief process ends with a realization of life going on, moving forward. I know this, but just for a couple of days, I need to hold this feeling of loss, recognizing the important things which are now gone, now over, and find ways to move to the next stops on the journey.
One of those stops, along with all of the other possibilities, is indeed more school. The seminary has accepted me in their MA Theological Studies program. This program will allow me to use the extra credits I’ve earned.
The candidacy process, by the way, is complete as well.