I have been away, at a retreat to plan the Create in Me retreat that happens every Spring, the week-end after Easter, at Lutheridge. The retreat to plan the retreat is both a working retreat for me as well as a time for renewal and nourishment. It's been a treat to see friends, both at the retreat and along the way, and wonderful to get away to different scenery. It's wonderful to return to Lutheridge, a church camp that I've been going to my whole life, a place that has great significance for my family--my mom was one of the first counselors there. Going to Lutheridge feels like going home in all sorts of ways.
Of course, one must return to the rhythms of regular life eventually. Or at least, the way my life is set up now, I must return. Yesterday was a particularly tough return.
I woke up in Columbia, South Carolina, in the house of a dear friend from grad school. I was on the road by 4:50 a.m. As I drove south, news began to break about the attacks on diplomatic posts throughout the Mideast, and then, the news got worse: the death of Chris Stevens, the ambassador in Libya, and some of his staff. Of course, there's the everpresent backbeat of Iran's nuclear program and the inability to make Syria quit slaughtering its citizens.
The world unravels, threads of all sorts pulled loose from the Mideast. And my personal world continues to feel pulled apart.
I had hoped to have some news on the job front. You may remember, last week, I interviewed for the new version of my job in the new structure of the reorganization of my school, and I wait to hear whether or not I've been chosen. I wait to hear what my new salary might be. Deadlines approach, and it would be nice to know what actions I should be taking.
Should I be packing up my office? Should I be consulting with the woman who does the evaluation of transfer credits so that I can ask her all the questions (how do we transfer in AP test credits? do we have official word on how to transfer in IB credits?) I'll wish I had asked later? Should I be cleaning up my computer files?
Well, I should probably be cleaning up my computer files regardless. I should sort through the paper files. As always, those chores wait for another day.
Friday will be the earliest day we will get those answers. In the meantime, I continue to try to troubleshoot possible futures. I assign a class here and there to various teachers, while awaiting word for who might have gotten which full-time job, thus resulting in holes in the schedule. I spent yesterday working with a variety of colleagues, trying to assemble workable schedules for each, even though the original, closer-to-perfect schedule has been blown into shards. Yesterday, I spent time, as I seem to do every day now, in the work of comfort and consolation.
It's tough, offering comfort and consolation in times such as these, and I'm grateful for all the traditions which have taught me that there is a way to make a way out of no way. Even when humans can't imagine redemption, there can be greater realities coming. It's vitally important not to give up.
Before I get completely re-immersed in the down-from-the-mountain world, let me remember the glimmers of light from the past week. Let me remember the friends who did not dwell in the world of job loss and insurance costs, friends who said, "So, now you'll go to seminary? Now you'll proceed to this interesting possibility? Now you'll finish __________" (fill in the blank with various creative projects). It was great to be reminded of people who are doing what they can to bring justice to the world. It was great to spend time thinking about creativity and the arts and spirituality and all the ways that they can intersect. It was great to plan a retreat that will help people explore those intersections.
It was great to remember all the ways that we can be rekindled. It was great to remember that darkness may loom, but the light will return.
Rekindling and unraveling: could I write a poem that uses those disparate metaphors?
At some point soon, I'll write about the revelations that came to me as I did a directed writing exercise. At some point soon, I'll write about the insights I got as I wrote in my journal. At some point soon, perhaps I'll sing the praises of Gwendolyn Brooks' latest, Caleb's Crossing, the book I read during my travels, the book which reminded me that as difficult as life is now, it's nothing to how difficult it was to be a woman in colonial Boston and the outlying islands. If those colonists could make a way out of no way, so can we.
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