This blog has given new life to my efforts to make a contribution to my primary field, liturgical studies, as well as other areas in which I have an interest. My PhD came of age at a time when seminaries were cutting back on full professorships and, given that worship has never been a well-established field of study in my own Reformed tradition, positions in my field been eliminated, have remained unfilled, or have been covered by adjunct instructors.
In a not so dissimilar fashion, pastor positions have also become less available. In addition to geographic constraints of my two-career marriage, many churches in my Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination have closed, left the denomination, or downsized to fewer or less-than-full-time pastors. So I attend a local church, remain a member of the 900-miles-away presbytery I joined when attending grad school, and have returned to my much-earlier career in special education.
Working in special ed is not what I thought I would be doing now. I didn’t need anything beyond my Bachelor’s degree to do the work I am now doing. Sometimes I even say, “I could have just stayed in special ed that whole time.” But in reality, I don’t believe I could have survived in the “No Child Left Behind” era of special ed–but that’s a different story for another day/blog. And my spiritual life might not have survived, either.
My return to special ed has left me wondering about the point of my degree. Certainly, spending a lot of time writing both my dissertation and liturgy has equipped me for all kinds of writing, including the primary writing required of me in my current position—writing Individualized Educational Plans. Such skills as organizing for flow and carrying through a thread that connects the entire piece, whether article or worship service; knowing what to make primary and what to nest under those primary categories as secondary; organizing and presenting an argument; and explaining technical terms to the “layperson” are all employed in whatever writing I do. But…
But…I have longed for a space, a place, and—frankly—some recognition for my work. (Who doesn’t?) I assumed that, with the right credentials, I would arrive. The world would grant me my due. And up till now, in general, that’s been how my life has worked. But not now; not this time.
Now, five years after graduation, I am taking a different tack. I am trying to beat my daytime job back to its posted hours so that I can still do some liturgical and theological work. Given the internet, I can simply take a space, and a place. From that space and place I can look for a readership, some conversation, and maybe even a little praise.
And I now realize that my assumption that I would have a space, a place, and possibly some praise is what one might call a “First World Problem”—or, more accurately, a problem that goes with white privilege. Some have never had the world make them a space, or a place, or praise them. They have had to forge other paths. I am humbled to join them.
Image https://openclipart.org/search/?query=rejected “Rejected stamp” by Firkin 2018-08-02