On May 17th, I will watch the graduates of my college walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. It’s always a bitter sweet day because I’m happy for everyone and sad to see people go, too.
This year, it will be even more bitter sweet because I’ll be going – in a sense, too. While I have responsibilities and such after May 17th, that will be the day that my work with students as a full-time professor will end. I expect it will be hard.
But over the past few weeks, I have gotten so much affirmation – from people and books and a deep sense of calm – that I am doing the right thing. And I am so excited. Really!!
Here are a few things I have been reminded recently:
1. I have a book that I have drafted and have wanted to revise for months now. Come 17 days from now, I will have some time to do that.
2. God always provides abundantly and promises life and life to the full. Just look at John 6 where all those little fish and those loaves of bread feed thousands.
3. I’m pretty miserable when I’m really busy. I get great joy in taking my time with things and doing them well. I like doing things slowly, even if it’s just feeding the birds in the morning or sitting quietly to listen to rain fall.
4. Some of the greatest influences on my spirituality and thinking have been people who pull out – at least somewhat – from the busyness of the world. Thomas Merton, Kathleen Norris, Madeline L’Engle. These folks all had places to be that allowed them to think and do. Can’t wait to get my farm to have more of that for myself and others.
5. I really relish the freedom to go and do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. I can visit friends and family during the week. I can see a movie on a Tuesday afternoon. I can go to a Friday XPN Free at Noon concert, and I won’t be shirking responsibility. I’ll be feeding my spirit.
When I first started teaching full-time, I wanted to be there all the time, to be wrapped in the workings of everything at the college. I wanted that because I thought I would enjoy it and because I thought I could make a difference. On some level, I know I did enjoy some of those things, and perhaps someday it will be come clear that what I did made a difference. But the most valuable thing that came out of that experience is the knowledge that I have a different calling – a calling to write, to slow down, to see, to witness, to observe. That’s a nice feeling.
So, while I’ll be teaching part-time at the college come summer, and while I’ll still be around to see my students sometimes, I will absolutely love having the time and freedom to really talk with them when they want to talk, to sit out back while they smoke and to really hear their stories. Perhaps the most ironic thing about leaving my job – and maybe the biggest affirmation about my decision – is that I know I will be a better teacher when I’m not a full-time one anymore. What a beautiful thing.
P.S. For those of you who read Gautami’s Reading Room blog, you may know that she lost it to Malware. The good news for us is that she’s started a new one here. Be sure to stop by.