Sunday, May 16, 2010
Even before we arrive our son had called to tell us that the rhododendron in the backyard was in bloom. My husband had found a deal on near dead rhododendron at Lowe's several years ago. He planted them in a very odd spot in the back of the house near the trashcans. I didn't like the spot. But I was thrilled to have the rhododendron. I fell in love with them in Connecticut. While they are not common in Central Tennessee, they are abundant in the Smoky Mountains. Someday I want to go to the Smoky's in the spring and see them in bloom.
Yesterday I started my doctoral degree at my Alma Mater Trevecca Nazarene University. TNU's campus is beautiful any time of the year. I drove in taking in the beauty of magnolias in bloom. I understand why songs are song about these beautiful trees.
As I parked where I have parked hundreds of times before I saw an old friend, a beautiful old maple tree. I looked at the tree. I thought yes, I am home. This fall I will see you in your brilliant colors once again.
I saw the devastation of the flood. I drove by a friends house now destroyed. Her neighborhood can only be described as resembling a war zone. It is raining today and there are flash flood warnings. I am praying for Middle TN and her recovery from this horrendous devastation.
I heard the sounds of a southern accent. I heard people use the polite phrase Miss. I heard sir and yes ma'am. I had the door held open for me. I had a man get up to give his seat to me. There are still gentlemen in this world. They mostly live in the south.
After a long, tiring, a tearful trip from South Dakota, I am back home. I have been so conflicted. I have been so sad for so long that I have despaired that I could get excite or be happy. My husband tried to tell me that getting my EdD would make me feel empowered. I told him I was too old for that.
Yesterday was a good day. I found a spark of excitement as I sat once again in Quick lecture hall recalling all the times I had sat there before. Usually Tommy would be sitting behind me in class and we would chat about our dreams and aspirations. I still chat with Tommy but only in chat settings on the computer.
There were all new people sitting around me in this familiar room. All new professors were explaining the parameters of this new adventure. Dr. Swink, the dean shared her own Trevecca story as well as the history of this wonderful institution. She told us we couldn't graduate if we couldn't sing the alma mater and say the word doctoral correctly. The word is DOCtoral, not docTORal, and heaven forbid you ever say doctorial. Then she taught us a cheer for cohort lucky 13. We'll have a doctoral in 2013.
I think I will have a doctoral in 2013. I think I can do this. I want to do this. I am still sad, very sad about my experience with the seminary. Even at the eleventh hour one of the professors held out some hope for me. However, I didn't get any verification that things would move forward for me. While I am not abandoning my call to ministry, the only door God has opened is to return to Trevecca. I am thankful for that.
Next month I will experience living in a dorm for the very first time as cohort 13 experiences ISLE. I had three children when I did my undergraduate work. I'm not much for communal living. It will be a challenge. However, I rather suspect it will ultimately be good for me. I will meet new people. I will be challenged and motivated. Perhaps I could be empowered.
I have four books to read in the next five weeks. I have at least 15 pages to write. I will work with a group of strangers on a presentation for one of those books. I will pick and begin to hone my dissertation topic. I will adjust and craft it for use as academic research. I have been assured that the faculty of TNU will guide me, support me, and help me get to the goal. I believe them. There is something about the faculty of Trevecca. You just feel secure with them. You know they care about you. One faculty member referred to herself as the ISLE mama. She assured us that she'd be there from 7 am until 10 pm to make sure we had what we needed.
When asked yesterday why I was pursuing this degree, I thought my answer is so long I don't think I can give it right now. When I finally did answer, I said: I helped my husband get a PhD many, many years ago. I had children. They are all grown now. It is finally my turn.
I used to be an optimist. I used to hold on to hope that things would get better. I am no longer an optimist. I hope I have not descendent to the ranks of a pessimist. I would prefer to think of myself as a realist. The reality is that life is hard and much of the time it sucks. All we can hope for is a day like yesterday, where you smell the honeysuckle or see an old maple tree once again in full leaf greeting you as it has so many times before. There is a spark of hope. I'll have a doctoral in 2013.