Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Master's Degree

I am getting ready to apply for my MA. It may shock you that I have been considering several for a few years. Right now, if I wasn't considering the degree, I wouldn't be throwing myself at my statistics course and be so forceful about learning and finishing it.

There is of course the one that I've been talking about in Interdisciplinary Studies that will prepare me to do self discovery work but it's not psychology, and different modes of story telling with people to help them. It's used in hospitals and many settings to do creative therapy where you don't diagnose, just facilitate.

Another degree is an MA in Divinity. I have been regurgitating the idea of being a chaplain since I was 14 and working as a candy striper at Providence Hospital. I worked in Physical Therapy, but it was the chaplains who came around and encouraged the long-term patients (burn victims, sometimes mental patients, women on pregnant bed rest, people with operations that revealed more problems and long term stays) who'd be ready to give up, sick of exertion or whatever, and they'd give them a mental jolt with a kind word. They'd be in the PT unit or they would be with a patient in the cafeteria or where ever. They were ecumenical and they always had time for me asking probably mundane questions but they humored me anyway. I told one chap, "I want your power. You walk into a room and people's eyes light up even if they don't know you and you aren't dressed like a chaplain!" He said it was the power of God or Jesus working through him, depending on a person's persuasion. (He was Christian but even non Christians liked him. He pulled out people's strengths and his body language showed total acceptance of people. I'd love to see him with my hyper crew and see if he could shine the same individual love on each child or be like me, "Stop it! ONE AT A TIME!")

When my dad died (you must be so sick of hearing about this! LOL) I was sent out to get a minister to give us Communion. Since I was a teenager, wandering through different churches with friends and getting baptized many times (almost as many times as I have tried college majors,) I have been my family's go-to person for a religious person. There was some difficulty for some reason and I called up a few places and got an Episcopalian minister to come out. I told him of the mixed bag of faiths in our room, myself being Eastern Orthodox. He just laughed. He was so nice-- we spoke a bit and I told him about college and wanting to be A DOCTOR then was like, "Hey! You heal people, too!" He reflected on that, and agreed that it seemed like he did in those rough moments even though he'd often heal people on their death beds.

I've done Hospice type work and for the last few years been drawn to prisons. I'm joining an ecumenical group for a religious retreat behind bars at a women's prison and learning as much as I can about grief, not just in prison but end of life, during times of illness, etc. and they tend to be similar. I'm hoping to find a protestant mentor to help me prepare for a Master's degree (EO schools don't have distance learning so you have to leave state and they don't like their students being ecumenical) and of course to get in to a master's degree. I'm not a die-hard Bible thumper, which is probably why I was attracted to Eastern Orthodoxy in the first place (I fell in love with Paschal vespers music. Three priests singing sounded like angels of God in this large cathedral. Orthodox tend to be a light on a hill, not ones to flash a light in people's faces, but there are always zealous exceptions.)

It is funny that I would change majors almost a dozen times and wind up getting a General Studies degree (with a double emphasis in English and Psychology!)and for all the times I was baptized, be attracted to becoming an ecumenical chaplain. Darrin says that when we start with specifics, we gravitate towards the general, and when we start with the general, we end in specifics. He says that I may get this degree and move toward a certain direction and until the kids leave home, that it had better be EO at home until then. LOL

Chaplaincy allows you to use the same techniques that you use in the interdisciplinary degree and psychology, without making diagnosis and you help people in stressful times. I've been this for people, and I have been good at it. I'm normally a chatterbox, but when the time is serious and I am needed, I shut up and say intelligent things that people need to hear.

The degree requirements are a bit tough. They expect a certain GPA that I've not worried about. As a mother for all of my career and a very busy one, I've been glad to finish my courses-- I have a 2.5. I know other moms have maintained 4.0's but that was never my thing-- now it will be but the youngest child is almost 3 now, too. The college that I am looking at is telling me to find other strengths and to get a mentor and start working on other things that I need to do to get in and that my strengths will show.

I like the job description-- a chaplain is a true servant of God, not there to judge, but to be with people at rough times, maybe let them talk about their problems and help them navigate out of them. For all my degree changes in education, social work, and psychology, they lend themselves and me to this. I am really happy that Darrin is backing me on it. He says that he never saw himself being married to a chaplain, but that he also never saw himself with 9 kids, so God has lots of surprises for him along his path in this life.

1 comment:

Ropi said...

Well I am planning to take a few years break after I get my 2nd BA (I hope in 2013) and start working and then we will see.