The other day I was sitting in a confessional of a church and I asked the priest why most MFA programs were two years long. He replied, “my son, the Lord your God determines the length of your path. Sooner or later, the celebration must end and your work must begin.”
After confession, I sat for a while in the pews, eyeing the brown paneling creeping up the walls. I dropped my head back and stared at a black joint on the ceiling where one wooden beam crossed another, and I asked Him for help. I asked Him to help me arrive at a proper display for my thesis exhibition in May. I asked Him if the catalogue text and images I submitted that day would be relevant by the time they were published in three months. I asked Him what I would be doing the day after commencement.
I kicked out the pew kneeler and knelt down. My personal trainer once told me I had strong knees, but in the church, I had to support myself by resting my butt on the bench. I placed my elbows on the pew back, clasped my hands and wiggled the bridge of my nose between my thumbs. I could feel the tears coming but I giggled them away by wondering how a graduate education in fine art could have possibly brought me to this situation. If I were anxious about not getting The Job at The Firm after law school or The Residency at The Hospital after med school, this scene would be somewhat fitting. But crying over an MFA? Praying over an MFA?
As I approached the doors to leave the church, I dipped the tips of my fingers into the font. Before I brought the holy water to my forehead to initiate the sign of the cross, I turned around to look at the crucifix above the altar. I looked at His toes and thought, “maybe I wasn’t aiming for The Job or The Residency, but there were a few things I could daydream about. God, if you would just let Jay Sanders and Elisabeth Sussman know that I’m graduating in the spring, that would be awesome.” I gave the OK sign with my fingers and, remembering they were wet, I turned back around, blessed myself, and headed out the door. I knew He knew that I would be back.