The other day a friend from my teaching days asked me about my journey to divinity school after I stopped teaching. We hadn’t been in close contact since I had retired from teaching kindergarten and first grade twenty-five years ago. Here’s my response.
In 2004 I receive a Master of Divinity Degree (MDiv) from Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts. I loved every minute of it-- the professors, students, campus life, studies and writing papers. It was a vibrant place then. But the physical campus no longer exists. It is Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut.
After a satisfying career as a teacher, I had no interest in being ordained (being a pastor felt too much like being a school principal). Because I was pursuing the degree for my own discernment and spiritual growth, I was able to avoid courses on church administration, and, what I referred to as ’student teaching in a church.” Being 60 and having had a full career, I convinced the administration that I would never change my mind about ordination, so certain requirements were waved.
In another life I might have gone into chaplaincy. I completed the chaplaincy requirement for the degree, but not for chaplaincy certification. Upon graduation I took a part time job as the ’spiritual care director' of Wayside Hospice in Wayland (now called Parmenter Community Health Care—Wayland). During my tenure I visited with families and ‘clients’ both at the hospice residence and in homes.
I stopped that work in 2009. It was time. My mother was about to celebrate her 100thbirthday. She was my mom; I was her daughter. I didn’t want a spiritual care/chaplaincy relationship with her, although for sure, we talked about spiritual things. As I wrote in my memoir, Very Grateful, God was always present with us, always, but especially in our last two years together .
Mom died October 3, 2011, 9 years ago.