The season of pondering has been rich for me; wrestling through issues and questions in writing, as I have - it never felt like a choice. I had to do it. When I failed to, it literally seemed as though I couldn't breathe. And so I pondered out loud., and some of you pondered with me. And I'm eternally grateful.
Lately, gradually, there's been a shift. Questions that so needed challenging and issues that so demanded my voice, have begun to settle. I no longer need to argue those points, with others or with myself. Not because all the questions are answered. Some are. On some issues I can give an assured, "This is done." But most aren't ... (especially the big ones).
What's changed isn't necessarily profound. If I'm completely honest, I'm just not that interested anymore. Maybe it's like your favorite song? You can't get enough of it ... until you do, and then one day you find yourself changing the channel when it comes on the radio. Is it like that? Or maybe I've just outgrown certain things, or - more specifically - certain ways? Sounds awfully arrogant when I say it out loud like that, but maybe that is a part of it. I really can't say.
Some changes are obvious, though. After 13 years as a "stay at home mom", I went back to work full time this past fall. I support exceptional children (previously known as special ed) at our local public elementary school, and my first year is drawing to a close. This has been a major life transition. I enjoyed a window of time there where all four of our children were in school, and I was free - free to volunteer, visit, write, walk, even sleep. Free to blog and to read, to walk labyrinths and hike trails, free to sit by lakes and under trees and outside coffee shops and just ... think. And it was awesome! I don't regret taking any of that time.
But things are different, now.
Bad different? No. I mean, I'm tired - God knows I'm tired. But the truth is, I was getting kind of ... bored. I'm finding that some lessons are learned only in the walking, and - this time - I don't mean a labyrinth or an easy stroll around a pond. I mean hard work walking - exhausted, burden-carrying walking. That's been the path, lately, as I'm challenged - daily - to show patience, compassion, and wisdom for 8 hours straight to people (big and small) who test me in every way imaginable (as I'm sure I do, them). Don't get me wrong, I feel the best of me come alive when I'm teaching, I absolutely love it! But the days are tiring as hell, and I'm also committed to love my own family well, afterward.
That part has actually been interesting. I worried that I'd be irritable and annoyed with my own four children, after spending all day with students. While I'm not going to lie and say that never happens, more often there's been something else - something I hadn't anticipated. I come away from work with an actual longing for my kids; not just happy to see them, but grateful in the core of my soul. Hard as it is sometimes, I actually know now that we're getting a lot of stuff right. And I confess: I'm enjoying that affirmation. Even on their roughest days (and oh, have there been some this year!) a solid, weighty center of peace has grown within me, that the direction we're taking as parents is good and right and difference-making. I'm so immensely grateful ...
I've also been humbled this year; not figuratively, quite literally. I am an assistant. Not an administrator, not a team leader, not even a teacher - an assistant (at least, for now). If you know me at all, you know that this alone, is humbling. I've also faced specific situations that, despite all my dedication and diligence and determination, have been outside of my ability to fix. Rather than be shamed or defeated by this, I've had to choose to be humbled, which - I feel the need to point out - is a vastly different thing.
So, what's to come? I'm not sure. I may blog under a new title on a new site, less about pondering and more about practice. About being. About humility and reality and how our addiction to the ideal can make us useless cynics rather than dirty-handed world changers.
I may do that, I may not.
I'm also working on a separate project that won't be shared until it's complete. I've never been much of a fiction writer, but stories are coming to me now - stories based loosely on actual experiences and characters, which (I suppose) begs the quote, "Careful, or I'll put you in my novel".
I will do that.
And if I forget ... if I start to doubt that I have anything at all to say ... I ask you not to nag me, but - instead - to remind me. Remind me of the words of Frederick Buechner and Anne Lamott and ... well ... Michelle McConnell.
Finally, thank you. In all seriousness and with heartfelt sincerity ...