I’ve spent much of the past week or two reading the course materials for my return to graduate school this fall. I’ll be returning to finish the work for the Phd in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute, my alma mater. In the past eight years since I finished the masters I’ve spent most of my time turned inward toward my family, taking care of our two boys while they were small. Now, I’m turning back toward the world in a more profound way, and I can feel that I am in a liminal, transitional space.
Going over the classes for the fall, I’ll be taking a class on religious studies approaches to myth, Islamic traditions, and a class on Hebrew and Jewish myth. I must admit, I’ve really been struggling with the material for that last class. As some of you may know, I grew up evangelical christian, and left the church and my religion with a great deal of sorrow at age 25. Reading the assignments for this class has me reading the bible again for the first time in nearly 20 years, and it’s brought up some emotional issues for me. The decision to leave my faith behind was not an easy one, and it was born out of a lot of emotional pain and rejection by the church that I expected to always be a sanctuary for me. I think I’ve come around from a profound anger to a sense of acceptance about Christianity in the years since then, but I’ve found in returning to that material I have more emotional charge still there than I had realized.
I really really didn’t want to do the reading, but I finally forced myself to do it, and in doing so I came to some understanding about a new way to approach the stories from the Old Testament. If I can work this material mythically and imaginally, I can come to a new place in my relationship with mythic material that has been profoundly problematic for me, and I believe that some wonderful new things will come of it. These stories are a part of me, whether I want them to be or not, as my professor so wisely points out in some of her essays for the class. I’m afraid, a bit, of the road ahead over the next few months, but I trust Pacifica and Professor Downing to guide me. Deep breath.