Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back from sabbatical: the roar of the waters

Deep is calling on deep,
in the roar of waters;
your torrents and all your waves
swept over me. Ps 42

I'm back from my sabbatical. I didn't wade slowly back in. Instead I wrung every last moment from the leave, then strode purposefully into the deluge of the first week of classes.  We're three weeks in and I'm riding the waves of energy that crash against my door.  New students, excited and nervous, eager and tentative, poke their heads into my office, "Are you free?"  "Can you explain...?"  "I was wondering if..."

Last year's juniors rap on the door, looking rested and assured, far cries from the tired shadows who cradled coffee cups on my sunroom floor last December and wondered about the pchem exam looming over their heads.  "How was your summer?"  "What are you doing this year?"  "What are you most excited about?" we ask each other and (more cautiously) I inquire, "And next year?"

To teach is to know in some ways that we are a pilgrim people — always moving, ever changing.  I sometimes feel as if I am standing on an island in the middle of a river.  People are shooting the rapids on one side, others pole stolidly along through the slow moving shallows and marshes.  I shout directions and advice over the roaring rapids, wrap up bundles of provisions and push them out those drifting past.  And at night, I climb the steps up the cliff, light the candles inside the beehive hermitage I've built on the clifftop.  I look out past the mouth of the river into the vastness of the sea and I chant the psalms.

Out of the depths, O Lord... 



Photo is of my office.  For a beautiful reflection on wonder, which made me think yet more about why I find joy in teaching, read Robin Craig's sermon for today at Metanoia:  Welcome Wonder

10 comments:

  1. I have been praying for you a great deal as you re-enter. You did make good use of your sabbatical time however, right up until it was over!

    Blessings!

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    1. I'm really glad of those prayers, Fran!

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  2. Thank you, Michelle.

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  3. Michelle, your students are blessed!

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    1. And I likewise by them....

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  4. I like your office! It looks like a place where the students are welcome to come in, ask, discuss, wonder. I remember in college, some of my profs had offices like yours--but far too many had very sterile ones. (Nothing against my college or most of my profs, who were fabulous, but perhaps just oblivious to the whole "setting up a welcoming office" thing).
    I want an office... :)

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    1. Thanks, Barb...it was done with the idea of being a welcoming place! And offices are nice, though it would be nice to have an escape hatch sometimes...

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  5. I really love the "order" in your shelves.
    To have Radioactive and Education Translation (?) together or Early Islamic Misticism near Atoms & Molecules is wonderful. I am not joking I mean it.

    When people enter my office, quite often looking for a book, they are horrified by "my order". The surprise arise when I find the book.

    Anyway, the old magnetic tapes, the bottle with some chemical, the model...

    I really like it.

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    1. My interests and teaching are pretty eclectic, I have to admit. And there is an order, it's not apparent to everyone else!

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  6. I so need to cry out to God. This year is testing me for sure, or I am allowing it to test me. Not sure what is going on

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