For the past 16 months, MA in Theology & Culture student Heather Casimere has been contributing monthly posts here on the Intersections blog. Heather will graduate with her classmates at Commencement on June 30, and here she shares words of gratitude as she looks back on the past two years and turns toward a new chapter. We’d like to share our own gratitude, too—for everything that Heather has poured into her writing, and for the gift of watching her step more fully into her identity as a beloved child of God.

Heather has been selected as one of this year’s graduating student speakers at Commencement. We’ll be sure to share the video when we can, and in the meantime, you can catch up on all of Heather’s blogs on her author page.

Strange to comprehend these are the final words I leave you with before I receive my diploma, walk across a stage, give a speech, and release a squeal.

Seattle, I want to say thank you.

Strangely, I really do. Thank you for essential oils and chai teas. For sharing your swimming pools with me. For providing me one helluva black woman therapist to help me navigate your shades of white and gray.

Thank you Jesus, for your kindness. For loving me so. For your eyes always so full of compassion towards me, your hand ever extended to mine.

Holy Spirit, thank you for your Wildfire, for blowing your wind and waves over me until I listen. For introducing me to paint; for meeting me when I step out in faith.

Father God, thank you for containing me. For all the times I thought I would explode but I didn’t. For all the times I began to fall and you caught me. I am so amazed that you showed up and did what you said you would do.

Thank you for the people of color whom you laid ahead for me to be my friends. Sitting in circles creating space to share our pain and joy together has been my greatest honor in this place.

To my white allies, thank you for your brave words, for your silly loveliness, for taking road trips with me to places in different states—and countries—but always with trees!

Mom, thank you for your faithful love for me, for your passed-along creativity. Dad, thank you for the indomitable spirit and listening ear. Brothers, your strength and solidarity holds me up. Sisters, your presence fills me with joy. Cube, I can’t believe how great you are!

Beloved, I am awed by how brave and courageous you have grown to be. You amaze me with your yeses! Let’s keep going. Love conquers fear, so let us just keep moving against it.

And of course, thank you to professors who guided me through schools of new thought, who cultivated space for me to ask hard questions and be myself.

“Thank you to professors who guided me through schools of new thought, who cultivated space for me to ask hard questions and be myself.”

And gratitude for friends who hold the ropes, in Seattle, the Bay, and L.A. You know who you are.

I am overwhelmed with joy because You showed me that I am a beloved, powerful, victorious daughter. Amidst the pain and the struggle, you have shown me that Love conquers fear. Every time.

I never would have chosen this dewy city, with its rugged mountains and Evergreens. Wasn’t on my radar. But once here, I found that God did what They said They would do: finished a season of healing. Ben Quash writes in Found Theology: “The God who ‘has stocked our backpack for the journey,’ so to speak, also ‘places things in our path’ up ahead of us.” This playful, wild, tenacious God led me into the wilderness, equipped my feet for great heights, and led me out to a wide, open space.

There is space enough here for new blooms.