No one will tell you it makes any sense to begin a second career in ministry in mid-life when you are a seasoned professional and already have your hands full juggling a career, marriage, parenting a teenage son, and an abundance of good work to do at the church. That was my situation when I took a deep breath, reduced my clinical psychology practice, asked my husband's and teenage son's support, and accepted my admission to YDS. At the same time I ended a long tenure as a lay leader to become a candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry. For the time ahead I was to be, primarily, a student again.
I've been grateful for my community of students here at YDS. Ministerial formation happens inwardly but also collectively in shared conversation over books and meals, in worship, in service, and in play. A commuter student, as I have been, could feel left out in some settings, but here the sheer volume of opportunities makes it possible to find meaningful connections to fit any schedule. Some of my involvements have included: a spiritual direction group, a pastoral care hotline for Planned Parenthood, performing in the Vagina Monologues, and programs with the student environmental group.
The academic rigor of YDS, after the initial terror subsided, has actually made returning to school a joy. Each semester the course list is a feast of possibilities and witnesses to the breadth of scholarship available. My courses in theology, social ethics, and religious environmentalism have had a significant impact.
My professors in these courses have challenged me to reflect on what is at stake when we engage religiously with injustice. I've acquired a clearer prophetic voice about issues that matter deeply to me including social and ecological injustice, racism, the costs of consumerism, and the responsibilities of privilege. Currently I am a congregational consultant for right relations, helping congregations claim their covenantal responsibilities to each other and to their neighbors. I am involved with the statewide interfaith eco-justice network and am also studying the impact of nature experiences on children's developing spirituality. My studies have contributed directly to my preparation in each of these areas.
Here at YDS I found the community of ministerial formation for which I had hoped. Through this time of self-reflection, study, and service, I’ve realized the fullness of what the love of God and love of neighbor means in my life. I believe this understanding will continue to shape and guide my ministry in the years ahead as I pursue vocational plans in congregational ministry and consulting ministry.