The e-mail read (approximately), We regret to inform you that we no longer exist.
Three years plus thousands of dollars plus countless hours invested. Six classes away from earning a Master's Degree in Holistic Nutrition. A school that had been around for thirty years, suddenly gone.
And this -- this -- is supposed to be the answer to my prayer?
I enrolled in 2007 and was given five years to complete all my courses. For the first three years, I worked diligently. Occasionally I would get bogged down in a class I found boring, or I'd get busy with the rest of my life and my studies would fall by the wayside, but it was always temporary, and I was always happy to get back to it.
But in the fall of 2010, something changed. I had only six classes to go, but zero motivation to continue. Normally if I'm going to start and not finish something, I get much closer to the finish line before I find reasons to quit. (You should see my collection of just-need-to-cast-off scarves.)
I wasn't too busy.
I wasn't inspired by some new idea or wanting to head off in a new direction.
I. just. didn't. feel like it.
And I didn't know why.
With a little prompting from a certain best friend, I remembered to pray. I asked God for absolute clarity. I asked Him for the motivation to continue if that was in my highest good; and, if not, for the courage to walk away from it with undeniable certainty that it was the right thing to do.
Within two weeks, I had my answer...one that left no room at all for doubt.
The school is closed. CLOSED!
Clarity doesn't get more absolute than that, now does it?
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* * * * *
I was expecting to be graduating from that program right about now. Instead, I'm once again praying for absolute clarity as I consider embarking on yet another educational adventure.
There has been no shortage of SignPosts throughout the application, interview, and acceptance process - in the form of magical number combinations in response to specific questions, some unexpected scholarship money, the support of friends, family and co-workers.
Then there was the day I was driving Ian to school, mulling over the question of whether I should be focusing on saving more money for his education instead of spending it on my own, when I pulled up behind a car with a license plate cover that said, "My mom goes to college."
I mean...please...My mom goes to college?!
And when I asked the Admissions Coordinator at the School of Ministry & Theology to put me in touch with a part-time student who could answer some questions about how it's really possible to make school, job, and family work, I got an e-mail from someone named...no kidding...
On the other hand, there are what would seem to be conflicting SignPosts: reminders of all the knowledge I've already gained, seeds of ideas for refining and combining and putting that knowledge into practice in new ways, excitement about the possibility of taking non-credit classes and workshops in photography and writing, connecting in other ways with communities of God lovers and truth seekers.
A few weeks ago, just hours after a reading with Michele in which it became clear that not going to school is just as viable and wonderful an option as going to school is, I was listening to the Pray-As-You-Go message for the day, in which the narrator asked, "Can I take it to heart that wisdom and intelligence, study and learning are not the key to knowing God?"
Maybe this whole process has been about discovering that I already know everything I need to know to do what God wants me to do...and that the "higher" kind of education I need now has nothing to do with getting a Master's degree.
Or maybe not.
So...which way to go? Each day, several times a day, a different answer. Entertaining the possibility of going back to school has created a spaciousness that I hadn't known was possible. Now it's simply a matter of deciding how best to use that space.
My calendar for August 12 has one appointment: "Decide!" I'm giving myself until then to go back and forth as much as I want, to abide fully in all the possibilities, and to keep making room for further direction from God. As my Note from the Universe (God) put it yesterday:
You'll know when you need to know, Alizabeth, and not a moment earlier.
That's how it works when the answer you're looking for depends on other events that must first settle, new players that need to be gathered, and serendipities that are still being calculated.
Alizabeth, sometimes, not even I know, until I know.
But you will,
-The Universe (God)
The jaw-dropping, hold-the-presses, this-changes-everything SignPost may still come. I'm hoping and praying that it does. From the experience above (and others), I know what absolute clarity feels like. And despite all the many signs, I know I haven't gotten it yet.
But it may be that I've gotten and followed all the breadcrumbs (or are those Twinkie crumbs?) I'm going to get. Maybe it's time for me to choose a direction and, in the same way I've trusted God throughout this process, trust myself to make the right decision...trust that, in this case, "right" is two different roads that will both eventually lead me to the same place.
Either way, I will keep you (Sign)posted. :-)
What's a Twinkie got to do with it? Click here to read about our new SignPost rating system!