This is my last semester of seminary. And probably my most challenging and busy.
I’m working 25 a week for the church, and am the TA grader for the head of the education department (which is about 5 more hours a week). I have 10 hours of classes (and not terrible easy classes, either) AND I have to do my capstone.
Capstone is this school’s choice for finishing up your master’s degree. Some school have you do a thesis paper, which focuses on a single subject encompassing for field of study. CTS has us do a capstone, which involves assembling a portfolio of the last year a half of assignments and re-visiting them. Sometimes that means re-doing the project, sometimes it means reflecting on the assinment in light of experiences since then, or using Wiggin’s Facets of Understanding, and perhaps using Bloom’s Taxonomy to see the value of an assignment. There are various ways this can work.
Then I write a paper on what my philosophy of education is, and give a presentation during finals week (which includes a time of Q&A from my peers). This is all part of the “capstone” requirement. Thus far, my capstone experience has been somewhat earth-shattering (is it possible for earth-shattering to be “somewhat”? I’m not sure, but I don’t want to be over-dramatic).
Because a good portion of it is reflection on your work and yourself, of course, it is intensely personal. And as a by-product of this encompassing so much of my life, it is spilling over into everything else, like work. I’m finding myself asking questions about my very deepest fears and weakness, some of which nearly bring me to my knees in humility and reverence for who God is and in shame for who I am.
I was talking to the staff counselor at my church the other day while we waited for the coffee to brew in our office area. He asked about my semester, interested because he also went to seminary. As I was talking about some of the recent experiences I had, he looked at me and said, “You know, I just forget what some of you are going through. My seminary time was extremely formative and so difficult. I forget that you are going through what I went through 10 years ago.” And he simply shook his head, and I could tell he was remembering all that seminary has come to mean to him since then.
1.) a stone placed at the top of a building or wall
2.) the best and final thing that somebody achieves, thought of as making their career or life complete
While my capstone is hardly the “final” thing I will achieve, I do see it as the last piece in the puzzle has has turned into my seminary experience. The portfolio I create will be an ongoing resource throughout my life, from here on out, as an educator. Psalm 118 has these beautiful words to say, echoed by Jesus many years later:
This is the gate of the LORD
through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone;
the LORD has done this,
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.
I love the fact that after the capstone verse, it says “the Lord has done this” because God knows I can’t do it myself. And like the next verse suggests, there will be rejoicing. I too, like David, pray for the Lord to save me and to grant me success. In my learning, my reflection on learning, in my application of this learning, and… well, in finding a job.
I am .01 away from graduating Summa Cum Laude. That isn’t the point, I know, but it would feel really nice.