Three Learnings on the Occasion of my 40th Ordination Anniversary

“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12

First: women have so much more to offer than we are able to give. Our power and impact are infinitesimal compared to our capacity. I now know that marrow-deep.

Secondly, I hope yet to discover when to listen to men and when not to listen to them. I like men a lot but don’t like hyper-masculinity or patriarchy.  There is a difference. One of my mentors told me to suggest the title “Bubbe” instead of “Grandma” to my grandchildren. “Otherwise you will feel old.” My grandkids have abbreviated my choice to “Bubs.”  I hope to listen to my grandchildren more.  Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, argued that when someone says, “You don’t look your age,” you should respond by saying that you hoped you would or could. So ditch that joke about how I must have been ordained when I was eight.

Third, I am so glad I never figured out how to color within the lines or paint by numbers. I just didn’t know how.

I saw a tug circling in the Hudson. She was searching for a barge. My friend said when she retired she felt like a barnacle without a boat. I love tugging – the push and pull of the river, the Hudson, the one I love, that flows in both directions.


Spirit of the Grandmothers, those who care for the past seven generations as much as they care for the next seven, thank you for my forty years in the best un-job a kid from Kingston could have had. Amen.

ddauthordonnaschaper.jpgAbout the Author
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.