Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Restoration of Reading

I've spent the whole morning thinking about the shooting in a downtown Charleston church last night.  I lived in the Charleston area for five years, and before that, I lived in Columbia for 5 years and Newberry for 4 years--I've lived an equal amount of time in South Carolina and South Florida.  My first thought was that no one I know would have been at a prayer meeting that started at 9 p.m. at an A.M.E. church.  And yet, it won't surprise me if I discover some connections before the day is done.  It's a small world, and the church world is even smaller.  For more of my thoughts on shooters in the sanctuary, see this post on my theology blog.

Before I heard the news about the church shooting, I was marveling at the fact that I woke up feeling refreshed.   Why would I marvel?

Because driving home last night, about 8:30, I felt so incredibly drained and tired.  I wondered how on earth I would ever be able to feel renewed.  I wondered how I would get through the rest of the week.

It's been a tough week--all the toughness that comes with the final week of the quarter ("What do you mean I failed the class?  What do you mean it's too late?"), all the toughness of impending voluntary faculty severance packages, all the toughness of a spouse who teaches at a different place who is learning the place and the students, all the toughness of weekly upkeep that feels harder than usual, the toughness of a friend's hand surgery.  It's the cumulative effect that's more draining than any one item.

Yesterday morning, as I sat waiting for my friend to be discharged after hand surgery, I started the new Kate Atkinson novel, A God in Ruins.  I had read Life after Life, and I was interested to see what she did with the continuation of these characters.

Last night I got home and decided I was tired of staring at screens.  I made myself a big bowl of popcorn, the old-fashioned way, in a pan.  I crunched popcorn and read.  Heaven!

My spouse came home and we chatted for a bit.  And then I fell into a deep sleep.  I only slept for 5-6 hours, but that's better than what I've been averaging since the voluntary faculty separation packages were announced.

I love this novel of Brits with their stiff upper lips doing what must be done during World War II and beyond. I love the moving back and forth in time.  It's a more traditional moving back and forth than in Life after Life.  Thus, the characters feel more fully developed.

I've been trying not to let the news out of Charleston sink my mood.  Today is graduation at my school.  It couldn't come at a better time.  I need this reminder that we do good work at the school, and that although I hear many a sad tale of woe, there are many other students who go on to graduate, and one assumes they then go on to have good lives.

And of course, at some point, for some of us sooner than others, it will all be over.  Let me remember to live each day fully.

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