Today is the feast day of Santa Lucia--more on this feast, this saint, and the breads associated with the holiday can be found in this post on my theology blog.
In some ways, this festival day feels like the halfway point in the Advent season, although we're actually more than halfway through. Often, during my years of working full-time, it's been this day that reminds me that I have yet to do any holiday bread baking--or any baking.
On this day, I usually find myself wishing that I had time to bake bread today. But that is not the life I have this year, or most years. I'm in academia, and while people believe that academics have easy lives with much time off--that doesn't describe the life of anyone I know.
For me, this week is one of mad dashes to several finish lines: my online classes finish this week, and grades are due on Thursday. I have a batch of papers to grade before I'm done, but they're my favorite ones of the class, along the lines of what have you learned as a writer. Students usually do well in this self-analysis.
It is also a mad dash to finish accreditation documents which will be mailed in at the end of the week. I understand this part of the process: stuff I thought was done needs additional attention.
It is also a time of hiring and hoping to hire. I still have a few classes to staff--I have back up plans, but first I need to touch base with people who were thinking about it all.
And then there are Christmas tasks that needs attention: a gift for my nephew and some Secret Santa presents to buy/find. I need to bake for an upcoming cookie exchange. I realize that those of you with a Christmas to-do list as long as my arm will laugh at my list of Christmas tasks.
In these days of mad dashes to the finish line, I think back to the hot day in August when I created the deadlines that are on the syllabi. Back then, it all seemed so far away. It was hard to believe a day would come in December when the class would finish.
Back then, I had no sense of how my life was about to change. I had no inkling that a job offer was about to come my way.
I am still glad that I made that leap. It is good to have these challenges. I've always said that being part of an expanding institution comes with challenges, the same as being part of a shrinking institution--but I prefer the challenges of expansion. The challenges of a shrinking institution just fill me with sadness and dread.
I'm now part of an expanding institution, and I still prefer those challenges. In a shrinking institution, I can't protect people, and I hate that fact. And yes, I realize that I can't really protect anyone in the longest, truest sense--but in the short term, there are more opportunities to help people in an expanding institution than in a shrinking one.
So, on this feast day of Santa Lucia, I celebrate the ways that the darkness has not overcome the light. But I also realize that not everyone gets to celebrate. It’s worth remembering that many women in many countries don’t have any more control over their bodies or their destinies than these long-ago virgin saints like Santa Lucia did. In this time of Advent waiting, we can remember that God chose to come to a virgin mother who lived in a culture that wasn’t much different than Santa Lucia’s culture--or the culture in which many 21st century women live.
Let me also attend to another Christmas task--making year-end contributions to organizations that alleviate some of that hardship.