Tomorrow, Palmer Theological Seminary will have officially been fooled into giving me an advanced degree in theology. It’s a two-year degree that took me three years to complete because a few months in, I started a job at the seminary that was, at the time, the most perfect gift I could have received.
Four weeks from now, I’ll leave that job to return to PETA for what could very possibly be the last job I’ll ever have – working to help Christians make more compassionate choices about nonhuman animals.
I think I might be in a deep state of denial over the impact that leaving this community will have on my life and soul, as I’ve been feeling a bit dead inside about it all. So, in an attempt to healthily process my own feelings and acknowledge the amazing people who I’ve met in the last three years….a love letter. (a love letter that’s sounding a bit like an award-acceptance speech in my head….but a love letter nonetheless)
My dearest Palmer peeps,
I love you. Thank you.
To the professors: you have challenged me. You have exposed the richness of the scriptures in a way I never imagined possible. You have taught me new narratives. You encouraged my exploration of the theological foundations of our relationships with nonhuman animals and let me write loads of papers on the topic, even in church history. When you asked how I was doing and I glibly responded with some current struggle, you took a genuine interest in me and offered empathy.
To the staff: you are an extraordinary family of colleagues. Leaving you is so bittersweet. You celebrate one another. You are deeply committed to the students. You welcome everyone. You make me laugh. I feel at home with you, in a world in which it’s hard to find a home.
To the students: I feel like the luckiest girl alive to have journeyed with you. You accepted and loved and supported and challenged me. We worked in groups together and I survived sharing the labor of papers and presentations. You showed me how to examine (and check) my privilege. I am so happy that you are following your calls, but will deeply miss your laughter, tears, and prayers.
Sure, I learned about the Bible at Palmer, but I also learned about living and working in a diverse community. I learned how to stop and connect, how to prioritize relationships, how to listen. I learned how to examine, question, doubt, and deepen my faith.
I love you, Palmer Theological Seminary. You are the super best.