So clearly blogging is not so easy at the height of my class schedule. It's been two and a half weeks since last this space was filled, and frankly I should probably be doing something else. It's not as if I don't have a couple or twenty books to read and stuff to translate and write and lordy knows what else.
Yet today hasn't been a great one for getting work done. From who knows where came a grinding headache, bad enough to be accompanied by a little nausea -- not my usual kind of affliction by any means. It seems to be easing off, though I'm keeping the lights off for now.
Meanwhile ominous weather threatens. Today has been quite lovely--blue skies and temperatures around sixty degrees--but Richmond and vicinity might finally be about to get its first real taste of winter weather. We have an actual Winter Storm Watch and everything! Anywhere from two to five inches of snow is forecast, depending on your preferred source of forecasts. Since much of the accumulation might well be after nightfall, it could even lead to a delay of classes on Monday morning. That sounds ominous itself; with three two-hour classes somewhat back-to-back, all of which have difficulty getting everything discussed within the bounds of the class period, a delayed (and reduced) schedule sounds positively frightful.
Add on the more mundane stresses. Trying to get a exercise routine going, and not succeeding so well at the moment; having some trouble adjusting to a changed dosage of my blood-sugar medications; still adjusting to the poverty (fiscally speaking) of seminarian life, and seeking more financial aid to help alleviate it some; the lack of success at finding the kind of part-time work I had hoped to find, either in a church or perhaps teaching at a community college or something similar (which of course ties in to the previous point)...and of course these differing stresses overlap. Keeping up with coursework has been challenging enough with just the eight-hour job in the seminary library's Instructional Resource Center; how far behind would I be if I were also teaching a music appreciation class somewhere? I've done it before, mind you, but I was a lot younger and, I don't know, spunkier then.
And there comes the other bit of fun; tomorrow is that once-a-year occasion that reminds you that you're no kid anymore. Forty-seven isn't that old, I do realize that intellectually. If you're "only as old as you feel" I waver between being seventy-five and being not much older than my twentysomething classmates. Yet forty-seven is also rather advanced in terms of the proportion of my life probably remaining to me. Chances are reasonably good my life is more than half over, and even if that's not the case I'm probably not the best candidate for continuing to be an active pastor into my nineties. That doesn't feel like much time to do whatever I end up doing with this fool's errand.
Still, though, I have passed that point where I can no longer imagine doing anything else. I don't remember if I've mentioned that one of the elements of this new direction that jazzes me most is the planning and design of worship. Those occasions, sporadic as they may be, when I've been able to participate in the planning of chapel services here--even the smaller chapels on Thursday--have excited and touched me like very few things I can remember in many, many years. If I were to be cut off from that now I might well shrivel up and die. The exaggeration is not as much as you may think. Even as much as I fumble and foul up at translating Greek (I still cannot remember tenses to save my soul), I cannot imagine giving it up when delving into a New Testament text. Church history fascinates me (and I do love the reliance on primary sources for studying it). On occasion I may even be close to getting the hang of theology, though I doubt it.
So there is my place. Even as the clock ticks and circumstances do not cooperate, I am bound by love and fascination to be where I am, doing what I am. So I keep trying for more financial aid and jobs, try to get my schedule of reading and writing in order, take advantage of those joy-making opportunities when they become available, and rejoice in an entirely-too-patient-and supportive wife who is making me chicken and dumplings for surviving to forty-seven.
I've had iTunes running as I write this. First came George Chadwick's Symphony No. 2 and Symphonic Sketches, pleasing joys from my previous life. The order of things selected for play then skipped ahead to U2's "Pride (In the Name of Love)," and is now finishing up Otis Redding's "Dock of the Bay." Love that tune, but hearing it now does cause me to realize I'm not that guy. Even if it's brief, I do have something to live for. Things are certainly changing, and I with them. I'm not in that dead-end despairing place. Too much to live for, even to fight for a little if need be.
So back to work.