“We want life to have meaning, we want fulfillment, healing and even ecstasy, but the human paradox is that we find these things by starting where we are, not where we wish we were.” – Kathleen Norris The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work”
I first read these words by Kathleen Norris the summer before entering undergrad. At the time I was filled with both excitement and mystery, not knowing what the next 4 years would bring. What would I end up doing with my life? Discernment for me has developed into a persistent endeavor.
In undergrad I focused on my passions: art and religion, and ended up majoring in both. As I moved through college, these areas of my life developed an uncomfortable level of separation from each other. Try as I might, I lacked the language to name the connections between my study of religion and creation of art. Nearing graduation I learned about United Theological Seminary and discovered a place where the two paths merge.
After graduation, I was, again, at a place of wondering what I was going to do. The answer for the next two years would be to attend a place where thoughtful integration of theology and the arts can occur. During my time at UTS I was allowed to develop a language for my art and its theological significance. My study culminated in my thesis project on art, theology, ecology and the rural church. I created a series of collaged images that explore through art the connections between rural churches and ecology through farming. It wasn’t just the knowledge gained in the classroom that allowed this project to develop but also the friendships and work relationships with fellow artists at the seminary that allowed me to develop a language and skill for integration of my passions.
Since graduating from United Theological Seminary I often still have moments where I wonder “what’s next?” It is because I attended UTS that I am able to approach the question with a new language and refined sense of self.