As of 11:20 a.m. Pacific on this day, I will have officially turned in my final paper and completed my last class. This means that, as of 11:20 a.m. Pacific today, I will have earned a Master’s degree. All that will be left is to walk across a stage in an awkward cap and gown (which will hopefully still fit my now 6-month pregnant frame). The culmination of this degree represents approximately:
- 520 pages written
- 24,000 pages read for class, not counting books read as research for papers
- 61 units of credit earned
- 18 classes completed
- 1200 hours of studying
This feels significant. And all the sudden, as I was running my final spelling check on the last paper that I will turn in, I began to feel a bit nostalgic. This was surprising to me, because anyone who has been around me (or followed me on any social media platform at all) knows that, for the last several months, I have been counting down with eager anticipation to this day. For awhile, through the haze of papers and presentations and blog posts, all I could see was May 2 as the light at the end of a long, stressful tunnel.
But there’s always a little loss when something comes to an end. Those of you who have already completed Master’s degrees (or maybe even PhD’s) will have to let me know if you experienced a similar sense of bittersweet nostalgia when you hit the end of your programs.
The last several years have been a privilege. I have been gifted with the opportunity to study theology, something I’m genuinely interested in, at a school with faculty that I respect and students who have become a loving, supportive community for me. It’s sad to think about an era ending.
In one of my final classes this week, we were assigned readings and discussion topics having to do with eschatology: the study of the end. It seemed quite appropriate, given the circumstances. One of the theologians that we read was Jürgen Moltmann. In his book,
The Coming of God, Moltmann writes this about endings: “The end does, no doubt, ‘correspond’ to the beginning inasmuch as the beginning is completed, and is not replaced by something different. But the end is much more than the beginning. The outreach of hope at the end extends far further than the beginning.”
Or, if you prefer a more modern twist on a similar idea (you can thank my dad for this one), you can refer to the lyrics from Semisonic’s hit from the late 1990’s, “Closing Time.” The band sings, “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…”
And so it is a cycle. The end of something is always, in some way, a beginning of something else. But the end does not necessarily signal an event’s failure to live on. The hope that grows out of that event extends even past the ending itself, and is involved in the co-creative activity of the next beginning or becoming.
The end of this phase of study is indeed a beginning of many other new phases. I will shift from being a full-time student and part-time worker to a full-time employee. I have already begun the transition into motherhood, which will really launch full steam ahead in August with the arrival of Baby H. And I’m sure there are many more transitions yet to come which I have yet to anticipate. But into each of these new beginnings I will take with me the relationships, the scholarship, the knowledge and the encounters that grew out of these last two years of study.
And I guess I will also take this blog with me. Today marks the 31st post on this site, The Femonite. When I began this blog 31 days ago, it was part of class assignment that invited me to launch a blog and write daily for one month. I have to confess that I was quite nervous about writing publicly, and I was a little bit resentful about such an intense daily writing assignment coming at the end of the semester. But, thanks to many of you, who have faithfully read the blog, commented, challenged me when you didn’t agree, encouraged me when you did, sent emails with source material (thank you and keep them coming!), and engaged in many different ways, this potentially painful beginning actually morphed into a project that I enjoyed. And I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that there are many people out there, like myself, who are interested in the intersections of Feminism, Anabaptism and theology.
So, 31 days ago I was sure that today, May 2, would also be the end of The Femonite. But in some ways today just feels like a whole new beginning. I probably will not be posting daily any more (you can likely expect a new post 3-5 times per week), and I hope to continue to expand the voices that are represented on this site (if you want to guest blog, you know how to reach me). I’m happy to have you all on the journey with me.