Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Too personal to post -- but it's my life story

For my CPE application, I was asked to write "a reasonable account of your life," including significant people and events and a description of my family of origin, current family and important and supportive social relationships. Read on at the risk of knowing me better, or at least knowing how I know me...

My life

I was born to Tony and Linda Clark on April 26, 1960. I spent my childhood years in Fort Worth, Texas, where my father worked for a newspaper and my mother worked as education coordinator for an art museum until my brother was born in 1966. My Fort Worth childhood was filled with simple but rich experiences taking in the arts community. I went to children’s plays at Casa Manana and frequently toured the Museum of Science and History. I sang one year in the Texas Girl’s Choir, took drama classes, and was active in Girl Scouts. During that time, my family attended a Unitarian-Universalist Church that my parents helped found.

We moved to Paris, Texas, when I was 11 because my father had gotten a job as an English teacher at Paris Junior College. This transition was exciting for me but also challenging, especially coming on the advent of adolescence. Middle school was hard, but I loved my high school years. I was active in speech and drama as well as journalism. In academics, I loved making connections between my classes, seeing places where history and literature and science intersected. I graduated as valedictorian. I spent one year at Paris Junior College, where my father still taught. I continued to study drama and journalism. My first big discernment decision came when I needed to choose whether to pursue studies in journalism or drama. I chose journalism and graduated from the University of North Texas in 1981.

In early 1982, I married one of my journalism classmates and we moved to Northern California, where he had secured a job working in the corporate office of a family-owned franchise business. I began my newspaper career at the Hayward Daily Review, writing about city politics and education in Oakland and later statewide education issues. Our marriage ended after four years over a variety of issues, but my chief concern was what appeared to be a change in his opinion about whether to have children. I moved back to Texas and worked for two years as an editor at the Dallas Times Herald. It had been my dream to work for a major metropolitan newspaper and this newspaper was the one I admired when I had been in journalism school. The greatest joy during those two years, though, was getting to spend more time with my paternal grandmother. She was a cherished person in my life throughout my life, and I know she cherished me.

I was recruited back to California in late 1989 to work as an editor at The San Diego Tribune (now The San Diego Union-Tribune). About a year later, my grandmother was diagnosed with leukemia and died two months later. I flew to Texas to be with her when her doctor gave her the diagnosis, and I was able to be with her again in the last two days of her life. My father and I were with her in her hospital room when she died. As hard as this was, I count it now as one of the most significant experiences of my life. It was the first and only time I have been present at the time of death, and it was beautiful even as it was breaking my heart. (In my pastoral care role, I have been present with others just hours before the death of loved ones, and it almost always sends me back to my grandmother’s bedside. I pray a prayer of hope that they will know the grace and peace I finally came to know in the aftermath of her death.)

In 1996, I married a man I had met working together at the newspaper. In 2001, we had a son. Becoming a parent was a life-transforming experience. There is such joy in motherhood, and such an awesome responsibility for another life. My husband and I have struggled to adjust to the changes that parenthood requires of a marriage. We have no family nearby, so we are mostly on our own. We celebrate our son and our family.

I worked in various capacities as an editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune for 16 years. I still loved my job and journalism when I left the paper in 2005 to enroll in seminary. I now work as pastoral care coordinator at First United Methodist Church in San Diego and attend Claremont School of Theology. My seminary experience opened up a wonderful world to me of caring, thoughtful and socially committed people. I know that some of the friends I have made in seminary will be dear friends for life and an important and essential part of my support system in ministry.
In my first semester of seminary, my father was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and had surgery two months later. He survived the surgery but died during his recovery. This was a shock to all of us as we had been told he was fine and recovering well and rapidly. My grief was profound. I am grateful to have come through that first year of grief with patience from my family, support from my senior pastor, seminary friends and professors, and good grief counseling.

I have been blessed to have a series of good mentor/friends throughout my life. A family friend and artist, a junior high English teacher, my high school speech and drama teacher, a church youth leader, a more-experienced journalist at my first job, trusted colleagues throughout my career. In my two years in a ministry setting, my mentors have included a 94-year-old retired pastor and a 30-year-old ordained United Methodist elder, who is my mentor, my coworker and friend. I am coming to count some of the parents of my son’s classmates as friends and mentors, too. They seem to have a handle on this parenting/working/marriage juggling and are happy to share wisdom or laughter or simply understanding.

From my mother, I learned a love of the arts and beauty. From my father, I learned a love of words and thought and faith. From my grandmother, I learned unconditional love. From my son, I learn to treasure life and live more in the moment. From and with my husband, I learn how to grow in love and relationship even in the face of life’s challenges. From my friends, I am learning to be my authentic self, and through that authenticity with myself and before my friends I am learning a depth of love outside romantic love or familial love that I have not previously known.

3 comments:

RevErikaG said...

Thanks for being you, for sharing you, and allowing me to know you!

Marian said...

I feel closer to you now. Thanks for sharing.

molly said...

I give thanks for all the pieces of your life.