Wednesday, December 14, 2016

New student introduction: Keelin Anderson

We have a number of new students joining us for our spring semester during the 2016-17 academic year. We're excited to introduce to you one of these - Keelin Anderson, who is an MDiv Access student from Portland, Oregon. She shares some thoughts on coming to ESR below:

Hello to the ESR community! My name is Keelin Anderson and I live in the paradise that is Portland, OR. Everything you have heard about Portlandia is true. Not only can I have hot soup and a new mattress delivered by bike to my home, I can also have my Christmas tree delivered petroleum free (well, at least the last mile of delivery). It snowed an inch yesterday which, though rare, completely shuts down the town. Also, I am laid up with a sore knee. So, I have all of the perfect excuses to lounge on the couch and write this hello…

I come to ESR with the hope that I will be able to work at my edge more fully academically and spiritually. My route here has been convoluted (though I am sure to God’s eye it looks strait as rain). I was raised without religion. I had no interest in God until my late twenties. At that time I took up meditation to manage symptoms left over from an abusive childhood. Meditation broke me open to a whole new worldview. 

I’m now in my later forties, married to a very supportive atheist. We cooperate in the feeding and lap-provision for two somnolent cats. I’ve worked as a nurse and craniosacral therapist. I decided to pursue hospital chaplaincy about two years ago and so enrolled at the only interfaith MDiv program here in Portland (a Catholic university called Marylhurst). When I began, I knew close to nothing about Western religion or the Bible. I now know quite a bit more and am more cognizant of how much I don’t know. I’m not a Catholic, though, and I’m not sure I’m a Christian.

It had never occurred to me to participate in organized religion until I found out that I needed a religious endorsement to be a board certified chaplain.  I tried the UUs for a while but found the services exhausting (read introvert). Last April, a friend from seminary invited me to his unprogrammed Meeting. There I was, innocently minding my own mental business in the lovely silence, when I was given a message. This was uncomfortable, awesome, full of love, and kind of embarrassing. I took it as a sign that maybe I belonged in Meeting. Belonging is not a feeling I am used to experiencing. I find it takes some practice. 

Part of my calling is to expand my comfort with, and willingness to engage in, relationships with a wider variety of people. I did a unit of intensive CPE this last summer at a Level 1 Trauma hospital here in Portland (Legacy Emanuel). This experience focussed my calling exponentially. I loved the work and I loved the CPE education, though it was the hardest three months I have ever done. 

All of these experiences bring me to ESR. I want a critical container in which to explore religion, spirituality, and service. And I hope to find a community that is both alike enough to me that I feel seen and heard, and different enough from me that I feel expanded and challenged. I look forward to meeting you all this January.

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