End of Break

I’m back. Actually, I’ve been physically back for a cuppla weeks, but have had no gumption to write. Got a bit of reading done for fun, as well as for the now-defunct plan to travel to northwestern NoDak for my January term. (Incidentally, while I was kinda looking forward to the trip – spending time with a farm family, doing farm things – I am exstatic NOT to be in or near Minot, which is now rating the lowest temperatures in the lower 48. Whew! Dodged that bullet.)

To recap my past month:
* Did well in the semester. Could’ve been better, but that whole balancing-home-life-with-academics thing prevented all A grades. It was a good trade, as far as I’m concerned.

* Had fun at Christmas

* Got my CPE slot arranged for next summer. (Aside: I’m really looking forward to CPE in a lot of ways, even though it scares the pants off of me. I’m now feeling a bit more anxiety, since one of the chaplains I’ll be working with seems determined to push my buttons. In the interview he asked me, “Do you ever get angry?” I responded that, yes, of course I do. He said, “I think it’ll be interesting when you explode.” “Maybe from your side,” I said. “Precisely!” was his enigmatic reply. “Oy fookin’ vey!” I said – to myself, of course.)

* Started getting in some of by second semester books. I’m really looking forward to Systematic Theology and to my Loss and Grief class. The others I can kind of take or leave, but these two hold the most interest for me right now. I’ve already begun looking into the loss & grief texts, since the subject matter is so relevent to my current situation. So far, it makes a lot of sense.

* Managed to read Tillich’s “The Courage to Be,” Barbara Brown Taylor’s “When God is Silent,” Philip Gulley’s ” Hometown Tales,” Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” and John Elder Robison’s “Look Me in the Eye: My life with Asperger’s.” Could take or leave Gulley, but the rest were very enjoyable.

* Never found the dog-snarfed Flash drive. (Background: two weeks prior to Xmas, The Mrs. wanted to get some pics taken of us to send to our respective familial units. A friend from school who dabbles (marvelously) in photography offered to test out her new camera on us. She put the pics on a flash drive so that we could transfer them. Same said friend and husband also agreed to catsit for us while we were gone. They came over the day before we left in order to meet the felines and learn the routines. As I was handing friend’s husband his flash drive back, Large Black Dog decided that I must have been passing a cookie to that guy instead of to her, leapt into the air and snatched the drive out of my hand. Despite my cries of “Gack! No! Durrrrrrr!” she swallowed the sucker whole. I offered to buy a new drive for our friends, and they assured us it was not necessary, but they definitely did not want that particular one back once the dog was done with it.)

* Attended a huge-ish non denominational church service/performance on Christmas Eve. There was lots of contemporary (i.e. crappy) music and the service was a bit too entertainment-focused for me, but the pastor’s message – which he addressed mostly to those in the seats who wouldn’t be there had it not been Christmas and/or had their friends/relatives not dragged them there – was (as far as I can tell) perfectly delivered. Good News proclaimed. Bravo, sir.

* Attended a Nazarene mega-church the following Sunday. Again, a bit too much performance and some of the music was – to me – theologically unsound (and musically boring), but the sermon was very, very good and seemed authentic. I couldn’t complain. Especially when their choir – consisting of home-grown talent (which was surprising to me, because a) there were LOTS of people, b) they were really good and c) a & b are pretty scarce in the Lutheran churches I’ve attended) – performed Handel’s Halleluiah Chorus. Brought a wee tear to me eye, it did.

* Caught Marley & Me, which ought to be outlawed. I managed to tear myself from my own watery-eyed inwardness long enough to observe that the Dolby Sound system was the only reason I was able to hear the last 20 minutes of the movie over the sounds of sniffling and nose-blowing. What a sad, sad movie! All the more so, cuz you knew from the start that it was coming. It was good though. It highlighted how animals can serve a very important role in binding family relationships. As I think of my own family, sometimes the animals were the ONLY common ground, genetics notwithstanding.

* Relaxed.

* Caught up a little with some old friends. It’s amazing how much good it can do to hear familiar voices. I miss you guys.

* Learned of the death of another old friend. I say “friend,” though I hardly knew her at all. On the other hand, I don’t think Libby ever met a stranger. She was always very good to me, anyway.

* Celebrated my wife’s birthday with Japanese food.

To sum up, it hasn’t been a terribly exciting couple of weeks, but it has been very enjoyable to step back and reflect a bit. After the harriedness of the first semester’s final days, that opportunity to contemplate a bit has been very much appreciated.

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