I returned to school when I was in my Fifties to complete my master’s degree. My job didn’t require it, and I was under no pressure to do this. The position I held was one for which I had passion, some natural skills, and a lot of support. When the opportunity for greater learning presented itself, I realized it would be a good thing, but in all honesty, I wasn’t sure I was up to the task. Returning to school in my Fifties?!? What was I thinking?!? I regularly forgot where I put my glasses and my phone. How was I supposed to retain two years’ worth of religious studies? I literally cried the entire hour drive up to Jacksonville.
Completing my degree was definitely one of the most challenging and difficult things I’ve ever done, but I’m so glad I did it. It allowed me to sit quietly and learn from people who have the kind of experience I will never know. It gave me context and direction. It very appropriately humbled me and made me realize the importance of acknowledging how much I still have to learn.
Like most in our country, I have been outraged and saddened by the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and so many others targeted simply because of the color of their skin. My immediate reaction was to do something. After all, how could I not speak out, call for reform, and use my position to organize a panel for a forum on racism? I had the passion, some natural skills, and I knew I could get support.
And then the opportunity for greater learning presented itself . . . in the form of a good and honest friend who challenged me and graciously suggested that I may want to educate myself first. She recommended some reading materials, films, and a podcast. Along with these resources, I have had the privilege of sitting quietly and simply listening to friends who have the kind of experience I will never know. This journey has very appropriately humbled me and made me realize the importance of acknowledging how much I still have to learn . . . and how much more I can never possibly understand.
Continued education requires both those ready to learn and those ready to teach. Some of us must be willing to sit quietly while others must be willing to share their life experience. I believe this is a journey best traveled together.