GraduatioBooks2n is just 5 days away and today was yet another reminder of how unfortunate it is that I have been operating on fast forward. My days have been so preoccupied with thoughts of approaching deadlines and appointments that several times I have found myself in the midst of scheduling events for the very day that I walk across the stage, only to be reminded by another of what day it will be. So today I took a moment to pause … breathe … and reflect on my two years in seminary.

As I have shared with many of my classmates and colleagues, I came to seminary with a lot of questions about the intersections of religion and public health. However, I also came to seminary knowing that during my 2nd year I would once again apply to graduate school to obtain my terminal degree. What I didn’t know was which field I would pursue this degree in. Would I stick with the theology course and pursue a ThD (Doctorate in Theology) or a PhD in Religion? Would I return to the field of public health in pursuit of a PhD in Public Health? Or would it be some other to be determined degree and field altogether?

I entered the doors of seminary quasi focused and with a lot of questions and concerns – both personally and professionally. I found myself challenged in ways unimaginable and even from my first semester, I learned to surrender my ego and ask for help. I learned more about the Bible and denominational history than I ever imagined, but was also exposed to other religious traditions and practices. I lost myself in a world of scholars and activists who saw religion as more than a once or twice a week activity; for them it was a daily practice used to do a myriad of things, including respond to social justice issues in the world. I read the works of authors that caused me to rethink much of what I have processed about how we conduct our lives day to day and I heard the vastness of experiences from my classmates of what brought them to the very same place.

For me, seminary was one of THE most diverse collections of people I have ever experienced. Unlike many other disciplines, my time there brought together others from all walks of life, with a variety of professional experiences all with intentions of doing very different things under the umbrella of ministry. And unlike any of school or work environment I have been in, my classmates taught me what it means to both be called and respond to the calling. They taught me about passion, about gifts and about the way in which God directs our paths to do “the work our souls must have” (Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon).

My time in seminary was so much more than just another degree – it was a life altering experience, a confirmation of where I am headed and a timely interjection in the busy world of work and professional endeavors. My two years both helped me professionally and healed me personally. So as I prepare for graduation and take time to breathe and to celebrate, I also take to give thanks for such a transformative experience.