Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dust, Of History, Of Humans

Most mornings, I would be out for my morning walk.  But most mornings, I would not have spent the day before on my hands and knees trying to restore the luster of hardwood floors.  As I scrubbed and dried the floors, I tried to remember how the house got so grimy.  I last cleaned it deeply in April of 2019, before the visit of my sister and nephew. 

I used to clean more rigorously and more regularly back when we had overnight visitors spread throughout the year.  In between those visits, I'd do the basics to keep toilets and surfaces clean, but I wouldn't get on my hands and knees to dust/scrub the more hard to reach places on the baseboards and furniture.

We haven't had overnight visitors during the pandemic, and I've just let things slide.  Now we're getting the house ready to put on the market, so it's time to get everything cleaned and presentable.  It's exhausting, and we haven't even started on restoring the cottage.

But I'm also not walking because it's been a slow morning in other ways:  a frozen/sloggy computer, a sloggy body, and my wanting to do some reading and writing.  Earlier this morning, I wrote this Facebook post:  "Oh dear. I've discovered an ancient apocalypse I never really took note of before: the end of the bronze age. I was going to write a blog post about my map quiz for seminary class, and I can't stop reading articles about the collapse of the bronze age. Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson tweeted this yesterday, and I haven't been the same since: 'Everyone thinks it’s all going to go down like the end of the Roman Empire. But what if it’s more like the collapse of the Bronze Age civilizations?'"

I wanted to sit and read and contemplate.  I wanted to write about my first quiz in seminary.  Instead, I've been zipping around from website to website, wondering why I haven't thought about the collapse of the Bronze Age before and trying to figure out how the history overlays with Bible stories I spent the last week in seminary reading.  I am thinking, but I am not sure, that the collapse of the Bronze Age made it possible for the Maccabees to overthrow their oppressors.  According to one of the lectures I viewed this week for New Testament class, they ruled so badly that the Romans came in and offered to take over, and they just said, "Sure."  I need to find a website that gives good timelines.

It is sobering to me to realize how much I still don't know, especially when it comes to the time before the English literature that I spent so much time in grad school studying.  Actually, my studies became more solidified as I taught the British Literature survey classes early in my teaching career.  But I never taught anything much before Chaucer and Beowulf, so those time periods are much hazier to me.

The maps are hazier too.  I spent this past week looking at a variety of maps to get ready for my first quiz in seminary.  I had blank maps that I filled in as a study guide.  I searched source maps looking for those city names that are familiar to me from Bible stories I'd been hearing from my youth:  Nazareth, Bethlehem, Nineveh.  I thought about the Fertile Crescent and that land between the Tigris and Euphrates.  I looked at ancient names and tried to figure out their current names, just to get my bearings on a map.  I thought about that wide swath of humanity, all dust now.

Yesterday morning I took the map quiz, which was harder than I thought it would be.  Or maybe it's more accurate to say it was hard in different ways.  I knew it would be a multiple choice test, so at least I wouldn't be grading on my map-making skills.  Still, I felt like I prepared for a calculations type of math quiz, but had to think in terms of word problems:  "You are going from this city to this city.  Which route is most direct?"  Happily, I was able to make the adjustment and complete the quiz.  I scored a 95, which made me ecstatic.

This first official week of seminary classes has been a delight, and there's a bit of weird grief-like stuff too--what took me so long to do this?  What all have I forgotten that might be coming in handy?

Let me not get too lost in hindsight.  We're all dust, all too soon.

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