Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Still On The Journey

So, as I mentioned, I cleaned out my carrel yesterday. I had been going back and forth in my head -- should I go ahead and do it, or wait until my folks have seen it and come back after graduation to clean it out? -- and finally decided just to do it. Make it part of my closure rituals. So, I did it yesterday.

My carrel has served both as study place and as sacred place, as the top shelf held few books but functioned more as an altar. I have gradually been taking things home -- the boxes of tea, my Hebrew Tanakh and lexicon, a notepad for thoughts, the little pile of notes left by my cielo and my friends -- but the altar pieces stayed. I couldn't bring myself to take them, quite yet.

But I did, yesterday.

The stones and
the turtles and
the Guadalupe candle and
the Salvadoran art piece of the Last Supper and
the icon of St. Cecilia and
the postcard of a Diego Rivera painting that looks like my cielo and
the wooden sculpture of St. Francis I got in ChimayĆ³ last summer and
the markers from the commemoration of migrant deaths we did and
the flower petals from my birthday roses (well, those I left scattered at my cielo's and other friends' carrels) and
the dove from the protest we went to in Cuernavaca and
piles of notepaper and
my baseball calendar and
the sticker that says "was columbus a terrorist or an illegal alien?" and
the bottle of ibuprofen and
the photo of me and my cielo and
the BLUE artwork by my godson and
the old baseball I found in the lobby one day and
the postcards from the columbus day Protest and
the icon of Archbishop Romero and
the little glittery tealight holder from my in-care committee with the two little Guatemalan women dolls sitting in it and
my silk hand-painted (by me!) scarf with turtles and celtic trinity knots and moons and
the photo of the tomato-picker's dirt-encrusted hands and
my pen & pencil holder and
my sweatshirt and fleece blanket because it gets so cold up there even in the summer


And I packed them all into the bag, and thought about all the times I had looked at them and gained strength from them and reminded myself of what I was doing. I thought about the sandwiches I'd munched there, and the coffee and cokes drunk there, and the view from the window of the Rockies -- the storms I watched roll over the mountains and timed from the foothills to the moment the rain hit the library windows.

It was a sacred space. Faith and learning and nourishment, and a hiding place from the craziness of school.

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Today was honors convocation. I won the Justice and Peace Award, which apparently shocked no one but got a huge cheer and some folks even stood up to applaud. Later, when we presented the quilt that arrestees and witnesses had made to the school, the dean said very good things about what we had done and the impact it has had on the school. I was pleased with that.

After lunch was graduation rehearsal. We ran through the program, rehearsed the school songs, and practiced getting in, sitting down, and then getting up to receive our diplomas. The dean of chapel brought a hood so that we could practice being hooded -- and she brought the very hood which will be presented to our graduation keynote speaker, Carlotta Walls LaNier, a member of the Little Rock Nine. Since my family is from Arkansas, this is a great moment for me (and makes up karmically for having to endure shrub sr. at my college graduation...).

Ms. LaNier will be receiving the first honorary doctorate that Iliff has ever given in its history. The dean of chapel brought her hood and told us we would be carrying her legacy, and she would be carrying us. I loved that. When she hooded me, I put my hand where the hood hung at my neck, and she squeezed my shoulders and whispered in my ear that I have already born this mantle well, and will continue to do so in my life.

Well, that was just about too much!

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Afterwards, TheologyBabe and I had one last coffee date, and strolled quietly through the DU campus that connects with Iliff, noticing all the beautiful blooming flowers and reminiscing about our time here together. Shortly I will go to my very last class (I have actually not gone to class this week, except for Greek Monday morning...), the theology class, and then out for celebratory ice cream with friends afterwards.

Tomorrow I am cleaning house and writing a sermon for Sunday (my last in this capacity at HappyChurch), and my parents get in late at night.

Friday, I graduate.

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BearGoddess asked me yesterday if I'm doing self-care around this big transition. I told her that I actually do transitions pretty well, because Daddy taught us whenever we moved to say good-bye to everything -- not just people but also places, and thank the places for the memories they hold. So I am fairly intentional about transitions like this -- marking the "last time" and giving thanks for sacred places and moments. I feel varieties of emotions -- excitement, nervousness, sadness, tenderness -- which all seems very normal for this kind of event.

Mostly what I feel is thankfulness. Iliff is the first place I ever got to really live into my whole self, and that self has been affirmed and celebrated and loved in so many ways.

There's a hymn from Iona called "The Summons" (which I have known for over 10 years and which we are singing Friday night), which has this line, one of my favorites:

Will you love the "you" you hide if I but call your name?

Yes. I can finally say, Yes.

And I say it full of gratitude.

Full of gratitude.

4 comments:

  1. Oh, Towanda, I am so glad for you! Congratulations on the award, which was indeed deserved.

    I was a bit shocked when I clicked on the link to Jeffrey's profile to see him looking so stern!

    Now, do MDiv students get assigned a carrel these days? When I was there, those were reserved for the PhD students.

    Have a blessed day tomorrow. Celebrate!

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  2. Congratulations on your graduation, and one the Justice and Peace Award. I can think of nobody more deserving!

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  3. I'll be gone until next week, but I want to wish you the very best before I leave . . . I'll be thinking of you Friday.

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  4. Beautiful! And I'm so glad you're celebrating, rejoicing, finding closure. I'm a little sad about your empty carrel. I always enjoyed wandering up to do homework and seeing your stuff there and, even better, sometimes even seeing you there! :)

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