Post-Traumatic Merger Disorder

I know I’ve mentioned before that my school went through a merger process this year, moving out of Cambridge and across the river to join in the Boston College conglomeration.  The transition has been difficult, especially for those of us who were students at Weston previously, because we lost a lot in the merger.  That’s not to say that there aren’t good things about the school (or that we were the only ones who lost things in the merger), but it is very true that it has been a VERY rough year.  And while I cannot speak for those who come from the IREPM, this has been my experience as a former WJST student.

Last week, there were two events that really stood out in the midst of the chaos of the end of the year (and the pain we’ve all carried during this year).  The first was the final community Mass of the year.  One of our professors offered a reflection and it was the FIRST time all year that it was publicly acknowledged that all returning students and all of the faculty are GRIEVING.  Hearing that said publicly was like having a weight lifted off our shoulders.  This year has been difficult on everyone from both successor institutions and it’s had a major impact on the year.  And we are grieving.  It was fully appropriate to mark that, even as we celebrate the graduation of the first class at the school. We jokingly refer to it as “Post-Traumatic Merger Disorder”, but the reality is that a lot of the symptoms of the school mirror those of mild Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Recognizing that change can be traumatic is important, as is giving voice to those feelings.

The second event was the next night.  My MDiv cohort gathered for one final Mass and meal together.  As we gathered in the small chapel upstairs, I began to feel it was as if we were gathered in the chapel at Weston (it helps that the chairs are the same!).  The only member of our MDiv cohort who is not graduating was the preacher and his words on both the scriptures and on the life of St. Catherine of Siena fit the occasion perfectly.  It was Mass as it should be: a community gathered in worship and thanksgiving.  And then it was time for dinner.  Those that know our cohort know that we might not collectively have the most appropriate sense of humor, but when we gather together, laughter is the name of the game.  And boy, did we laugh!

And it was while we were sitting around a giant table, enjoying good food and wine, laughing our heads off that I remembered, for the first time all year, why it was that I had chosen to come to Weston in the first place.  And I know I’m not the only one who really needed that.

Because after what’s been a tough year, it’s a hard thing to be facing a terrible job market, a bad economy, and student loan payments that will be coming due.  Yet, despite how bad this year was, and despite the pain, as I sat at that table on Wednesday, lyrics from one of my favorite songs (“Song for the Road” by David Ford) came to my mind.  And I’ll leave you with those, because they sum up my feelings about the past three years: “And I know some day this all will be over and it’s hard to say what most will I miss.  Just give me one way to spend my last moments alive, and I choose this, I choose this, I choose this.”

Becky Chabot is a third year Masters of Divinity candidate at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry.  After graduating from Creighton University, Becky lived in Bolivia and spent a year as a St. Joseph Worker (www.stjosephworkers.org).  Her research interests include Latin American liberation theology, intercultural theology, and social ethics.  When not doing schoolwork, she enjoys Bob Dylan, Doctor Who, knitting, and good Scotch.  She also enjoys figuring out peoples’ Enneagram numbers, Myers-Briggs types, and Hogwarts houses.  Her main blog is entitled A Traveling Theologian.

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