Marine Corps

Student of the Prophetic Sisterhood

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So I am applying to a few seminaries for Fall 2014.  I’m signed up to attend January convocation at Meadville Lombard in Chicago and am planning on visiting the Harvard Divinity campus.  But with so much time before I can even make my final decision, I decided to be proactive by beginning the UUA ministerial required reading list.

Many of the seminarians I’ve already met often post on social media about the difficulty in attending courses, internships, writing papers, and all the while, attempting to read and absorb the rather large collection of writings meant to introduce ministerial candidates to the expansive world of Unitarian Universalism.

Prophetic Sisterhood, TuckerWith a random spattering of documents and books, I’ve chosen as my first reading, a book that touches close to home in my personal journey.  The Prophetic Sisterhood: Liberal Women Ministers of the Frontier, 1880-1930 by Cynthia Grant Tucker (Authors Choice Press, 1990.)  The women in the book are independent, strong, and always choosing a path with love, difficulty, and leadership in the face of male dominance.

Always one for the unique path in life, and after competing in a few beauty pageants in high school, I graduated early and joined the Marine Corps at the age of seventeen.  I was attending boot camp while my friends were attending prom, and I was at my first duty station during our high school graduation ceremony.  If that wasn’t enough, I served as a C-130 (Cargo) aircraft mechanic and later did a tour in the Army as a heavy wheeled vehicle mechanic, spending all eight years of my tours as the only female in my workspaces.  I followed these with now twenty-plus years in the social work field, working for the American Red Cross in multiple countries and volunteering for many other groups.

Now, much older and wiser from my veering paths in life (I say as I laugh half-heartedly!)  I find my faith and family as the touchstones to my life–now merging my social work past, my love of literature (theology is strongly interpretation of the written word, is it not?) and my humble beginnings as a religious lay leader to my fellow recruits while in boot camp.

My path has lost its twists and turns and is now a single road before me.  Dusty, rocky, and assuredly over more mountains than I’ve already climbed, but single and chosen by my life’s experiences and my heart’s longings to guide, love, and support my fellow human beings.

So, with the Prophetic Sisterhood, I begin.

My desert home

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It’s been wonderful being back in El Paso for the last year and more.  I’ve been so used to traveling and moving that our little six-week trip in September and October back East just wasn’t enough to cure my bug, but at the same time, I’m home.

I graduated from Socorro High School here in El Paso back in the 80’s and then went straight el-paso-tx desertinto the Marine Corps as a 17-year-old.  My friends and I were so hurried to get out on our own.  Of my two best friends, one graduated mid-term and married the day after our last class.  I graduated mid-term also and left for boot camp in January.   While my friends were enjoying the prom I was on bivouac in Parris Island and by the time they were graduating, I was at my first duty station in North Carolina.  At age 21, when many young adults are moving out of their parents’ homes, I was completing a four-year tour of duty.

Although I have a lot of pride associated with my service (even my youngest daughter became a Marine) I recently have had reminders of the unique experiences that I lost in all my ambition.  I followed the military for 25 years and it was only my position with the American Red Cross that brought me back home to Texas, serving as the Station Manager  at William Beaumont Army Medical Center.

Within a year of leaving El Paso so long ago I lost touch with my first love.  The last I heard from my best friends was about ten years ago.  We’re now in our 40s, married, divorced, children.  Although we’ve all gone in different directions, we will never lose our common denominator.  And maybe I’m a sentimental fool now, but I’d love to see them all, hear their voices, cry with them, laugh with them, and heal their wounds.

In January I leave El Paso, but in December I’ll be back, back to my favorite place, my desert home.