A week ago right now I was in quite a funk. We’d had a teacher work day full of meetings on Friday and I had accomplished little. After a lovely Christmas break full of time with family and plenty of puttering around the house, I was not looking forward to a return to school and routine on Monday. I love being at home. I enjoy the quiet hours with morning light streaming through the bay window in my kitchen while I sip my coffee, read my Bible, and write in my journal with a snoring basset hound at my feet. I like folding clothes and planning meals, building marble runs with grandsons, and reading to granddaughters. I like to make soup without a recipe and bake bread from fresh-ground wheat. I like to be able to wait until the warmest part of the day to work out because–who knows?–it might get warm enough to run outside. In short–I like to do what I like to do. But it was Saturday and Monday was coming.
As I was walking the dogs this morning and reflecting on the week that was, I realized that going back was actually not so bad. In fact, there were some really good things about it and in an effort to grow beyond my naturally cynical/pessimistic/Eeyore-like persona, I thought I’d write about the good side of going back.
1. Running at 5am. I know. It doesn’t seem like that could possibly be a good thing, but I am here to report that it is. I’m a person of lists. I sometimes write things I have already done on my to-do list simply so that I can cross it out. (I know I am not the only person who does this.) Running four miles right out of the gate allows me to start my day with a rather large task already behind me. Besides the fact that running energizes me physically, it helps me emotionally to know that no matter how bad the day might get, no matter how frustrated I might become, or how little I might accomplish other-wise, at least I ran.
2. Teaching means that I spend more time inside without feeling guilty. This was a COLD week. I do not like cold. While working does mean that I have to brave the cold early in order to drive to work, once I get there I can stay inside. If I was at home I would be taking the dog out, running errands, and meeting people for lunch or coffee. While all of that sounds lovely, this week it was great to be inside AND one of my former students brought her lunch and ate with me!
3. Getting back into the “mess” of life reminds me why I’m here. It’s easy to get lulled into complacency at home. It’s not that my life is perfect, whose is? But I have been blessed, and I am used to my own problems. Personal problems can be a little like pets. We learn to live with them– I’m afraid I even feed mine from time to time. Right off the bat on Monday morning in our weekly faculty prayer circle I was reminded that there are other people in the world with problems and heart-break. I can help shoulder the burden. We need one another. This lesson continued through the week as I talked with students, friends, colleagues, and family that had also returned to “normal life.”
4. I really do love teaching. Mostly right now we are reviewing for exams. It’s fun to see what my students and I have learned together this semester. I finished reading The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis for a discussion with the seniors next week. I was blessed, blown away, and encouraged greatly by this little glimpse of heavenly possibility. I also had an opportunity or two this week to do a little dreaming about and planning for the future. There are so many great things ahead!
5. Time with family still happens. If everything goes as planned, this was Matt’s last week ever home from college. My baby will finish college in May. This week we had a few quiet dinners together, watched some television, laughed a lot, talked about philosophy, deep ideas, and life a little, took Margie to the vet, completed a chocolate-glazed donut quest, and made two very important excursions to Wal-Mart. It’s the little things. As I travel these last few months of my thirty-four year parenting dependent children journey, I’m sure I will have more to say. Stay tuned.
6. The fire is still as warm and the book is still as enjoyable even after a day at school. I was able to spend a couple of evenings in my favorite chair by the fire. I am grateful.
7. Being back in my school routine helps me to be more consistent in my quiet time and my prayer life. Running in the morning was a difficult commitment to make because I knew it meant I would not have time for exercise and Bible study. Leaving the exercise until evening, though, meant it just didn’t get done on days when I was exhausted. On the other hand, the more difficult the day, the more I crave the scriptures. I’m learning to start the day with truth in musical form while I run and to end the day with my Bible and on my knees. I go upstairs with enough time to lay out my running clothes, choose and set aside my work outfit, read my scripture for the day, and pray.
It’s been a good week. I have a ton of things to do today. I need to clean and vacuum, help Matt get his clothes and bedding ready to go and pack all of the Christmas decorations that are sitting at the top of the stairs into the attic; I need to cook and plan meals for next week and do my long run, but I’m content and at peace. Day by day, step by step, I’m learning to walk in grace.