Throughout my undergraduate studies at a school where an overwhelming percentage of students intended to continue their schooling beyond a bachelors degree, I vowed that come the end of my three years I would never set foot in a classroom again. However, on graduation weekend, just hours before I was to walk across the stage and receive the diploma that would signal the end of my schooling forever, I stumbled upon an article emailed to me from a friend. I cannot actually remember the article itself, but I fondly remember the photo of a woman at a farmers market captioned "student conducts research for a food ethnography course in BU's gastronomy program."
Food ethnography? An entire course dedicated to my favorite form of research? An entire program dedicated to the study of food?
"Hey mom," I called from across the living room as she finished packing up my apartment, "I think I'm gonna go to grad school."
Over the past five years, I have declared a variety of differing career interests. During my gap year after high school, I determined that I wanted to explore the world of pastry. Once in college, I recognized my desire to write. My anthropological studies revealed a fascination with humans and cultural research. Knowing the fate of most artists and academics, I prepared myself for a lifetime of passionate exploration with minimal monetary compensation. However, what I perceived as the exploration and intersection of interests and ideas, my family perceived as indecisiveness. It was no surprise, then, when my mother's response was a simple "okay, honey."
Continued research into Boston University's Masters of Liberal Arts in Gastronomy revealed a program that melded together each of my interests -- the interdisciplinary study of food and culture with a heavy emphasis on writing. Amazed that a program so perfectly catered to my love of food, writing, and culture existed in the city to which I planned to move, I immediately set my sights on attending.
Fifteen months later, I sit in my living room preparing to attend the first class of my graduate career. I eagerly await the ways in which my engagement with food, writing, and cultural studies will be challenged and shaped over the next two years. I look forward to research projects and book assignments, I am excited to discover what theorists I will read and what courses I will take. Looking back, I can clearly see the ways in which God has guided me through a winding journey of ideas and experiences that are coming together in beautiful and unexpected ways and I marvel at the possibilities of where He might guide me next.
This time last year I wrote an essay after deciding not to attend culinary school. I quoted a prayer from Thomas Merton, a prayer which I repeat almost every day. I share it again today, remembering the fear of changed plans in the past and savoring the beauty that came out of those decisions. In the same way, I look to the journey ahead with excitement, trusting that this too is a step into the journey which God has ordained for me beforehand:
"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road before me. I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.”