Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The one about the college visit...

I don't know why it has taken me so long to post about my visit to St. Mary of the Woods. I guess I'm still processing it all and trying to get myself all brave and stuff. The open house was both informative and a bit discouraging. But now, I think that was good. If I am really going to go through the work of getting my degree, then I'm really go to have to fight for it. I mean, really.

The biggest obstacle I'm running into is coming to terms with my past. I want to just pretend that I never went to college. I don't want to have to explain everything. I'm worried about sending my transcripts and all of my failures. It was just very disheartening. I have A LOT of F's. I know I had a lot going on, but still. A LOT of F's. I actually lied during my conversations with the admissions woman when we were talking about all the paperwork I needed to get together. I asked her what documentation I would need if I hadn't gone to college. (lie.) I know. I know. I would rather give up the few credits I do have just to not have to face the embarrassment.

And then when I started talking to the woman from the English department, she asked me how many kids I had and what ages. After I told her, she blurted out, "You'll never have time to do all this." Not meaning it in a bad way, just an offhanded observation about the busyness of my life. But, I came close to crumbling into tears. I mean, how am I going to do this? But, then I chucked myself under the chin and said, "When exactly is a good time? I've been waiting for the perfect time to go back and now 15 years has gone by. No time like the present." but still...that doubt.

After leaving the library, I decided to take a drive around the campus. I discovered that they have a labyrinth. So, in the dark, cold evening I parked my car and set out for the labyrinth. Labyrinths are ancient spiritual prayer tools, the heart of which I usually equate with God or Truth or Sainthood. The walk takes us on a journey that is eerily similar to our own spiritual journeys. I love them. I haven't walked one in awhile. I didn't really want to this night, but forced myself.

I only half-heartedly walked the path at first. "It shouldn't take long. And then when I get to the middle and accomplish that goal, I can move on to my next task." And that is where a labyrinth kicks you in the pants. You walk for a little while. turn, turn, walk, turn and then you are facing the center and walking toward the center and you're feeling good about getting to the center and then you veer off away from your goal. I took a little pleasure in the metaphor and kept walking and turning.

At one point I thought, "Just stop. Walk to the center and go home. It's freezing out here." But, I stayed on the path, frustrated because I walk and turn and find myself almost exactly where I was a few minutes ago. I thought I had covered this ground and now here I am again. With another turn I found myself all the way back at the outer edge. I just wanted to be done so I started running (dork!). And then I simply resigned myself. "I am an idiot walking around in circles in the cold dark. Good plan."

When I hit the outer edge again, I finally looked up. All this time I had been watching the path. watching my feet. Once I looked up I saw that I was surrounded by a beautiful wooded park. There was snow falling and trees and a shrine. "It's about the journey, stupid." I felt good about this. I was opening up to God and his plan. I was facing my past.

I walked and I turned feeling light and peaceful. I found I was walking toward the center where I could rest with God for a little while. "This is finally it." I sighed. But suddenly, I turned. I was at the outer rim again. I walked, I turned. I was sooooo done with this whole little exercise. I walked and I turned and finally walking parallel to the path that brought me into the labyrinth, I finally reached the heart. I sat, drained by the walk and I cried. I can't keep trying to pretty up the past. It was what it was. Admit it. Confess it. Receive absolution. and know that God was there, too.


Jenny said...

That is powerful.

Mel said...

Beautiful post. He has never stopped walking with you, even when you grabbed your hand away and didn't want to hold His. You are very brave to do this course.
We all have F's in our past which help us to make A's in our present.
I am starting Breaking Free course morrow (by Beth Moore) to deal with some of my very ugly F's in my past. Dreading it actually but my mom is making me! Poor silly me.

gem said...

I don't know what to say to you. First off, great post, really well written and a great analogy. I don't know the full story of your F's but I can tell you from what I have seen of your thoughts and writing that you ahve more than enough ability to complete this course and get a great degree.
My hesitation to be honest is the timing. To give it the time and energy that it will take to do yourself credit will be very draining. As against that it you have the support and the drive it certainly can be done. Maybe in a few years when the children are all in school it would be easier but you are completely right about one thing, there will never be a perfect time. I would love to be able to do some thing constructive to help. Good luck with your decision.
By the way, I know you do not need me to tell you but you have achieved a huge amount already and are an inspiration to many people. Your past is part of you and don't be ashamed of it.

Marlee said...

This post gave me goosebumps!

Good for you for doing something for *yourself*!!

Good luck!

Jenni said...


I just don't have any words.

valerie said...

{hugs} I loved the honesty of it, especially the ending.

Niki said...

I am too tired to be eloquent, but great post. Appreciate your honesty and transparency! God is working and it is awesome to see!


Multi-tasking Mom said...

Great post. By sharing your journey, you are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

absolutely impeccable words! many,many thanks!