Oh, how things change. It was just over a year ago that we were winding our way across the eastern United States (after an unintended sojourn in Mount Vernon, Illinois, documented on this blog here). I guess it must have been a year ago yesterday that we finally arrived, were thankfully able to reschedule the unloading crew after our unplanned schedule adjustments, and spent our first night in Richmond (or Chesterfield County, to be more precise).
A year ago I was still trying to find most everything, looking ahead with a certain amount of dread to summer Greek, and having to troll around local restaurants for internet access. Now I think I've found most things (though there are still a couple of boxes I'm slightly afraid of), looking ahead with a significant amount of dread to summer Hebrew, and usually able to access the ol' interwebs from home, campus, or a number of other places with trusty MacBook in tow.
A year ago I couldn't have told you the name of a single church in the area aside from an obvious guess like "First Presbyterian" which one can find almost anywhere. Now I know I have an interim job for this fall, working part-time with youth groups at a church we've been attending for a while. It's a dipping of the toes into the water, just a little bit, after all these years away from working in churches. It's also a chance to adjust to the particular structures of PC(USA) churches, which I have not experienced other than as a member and (very briefly) committee member. It is also a departure from my comfort zone, made more concrete than has yet been the case -- it was inevitably going to happen, so it might as well happen now. I am, as usual, both highly apprehensive and greatly looking forward to it.
A year ago, aside from some online interaction, I knew none of the folks I'd be attending classes with. I could guess that many of them would be about the age of the students in my music history classes I had just left behind, though some would be my age or older. Now I know that...yes, many of my classmates are exactly that, some are older, and maybe one is "about my age." I'm actually in just a little bit of a soft spot age-wise. Still, I can occasionally drop a "you weren't even born when that happened" on some of them when talking about events in my life, which is good for a laugh now and then. And in the interim, I got to know some folks enough to miss them now that they've graduated or moved on from the faculty.
A year ago, I really had no idea how I'd get involved in seminary life, particularly from a commuter's distance, beyond the classroom. Now I've got a small on-campus job that buys a few groceries, will be working on coordinating chapel this summer (making sure the communion elements are procured and such, as well as lining up speakers -- which is DONE, baby!!), and will next year be one of the Richmond campus's two student representatives to the seminary's Board of Trustees. That, along with the interim youth ministry coordinator gig, will be plenty to keep me busy along with Old Testament, Preaching and Worship, and the various other classes on the schedule for this fall, January, spring, and May. [One major task remaining is to figure out if there's even the remotest chance of being able to afford any of the travel seminars the seminary offers for credit. One goes to countries in Central America this January (I want to say Guatemala and Costa Rica, but my memory is not certain), and I'd really like to go, but that ain't cheap.]
A year ago, I wouldn't have struggled nearly so sadly with a simple revision of a musicological paper as I have this month. My brain is just engaged with different things now, and getting that focus back, even temporarily, has proven elusive.
Some things do not change. I still miss Lawrence and KU and many of the folks at the university and First Presbyterian, tremendously, achingly at times. I miss the rhythms and interactions of teaching, sometimes (other times I don't miss the other stuff that goes with it, as when Union was going through its accreditation process this year). I miss having income (I mean real income, the kind one can sort of live on). I miss our house, cookie-cutter as it was, with Julia's garden producing strawberries on occasion. I miss the walks with Miss Piggy to the pond down the road. I miss Miss Piggy. I miss Lawrence during college basketball season, even as I'm relieved to some degree not to be in Lawrence during college basketball season. I miss Mass Street, and the favorite restaurants with all the locally grown cuisine. I miss the quirky way the town just ... ends once you get past the movie theater on South Iowa Street.
(To be sure there are things I don't miss: winter and its blizzards, summer temperatures up to 110 degrees or more, the hour-and-a-half drive to the Kansas City airport, the futility of the Royals, and a few others.)
But life has changed, all the more dramatically for its seeming routine. The mental process of sitting down to write this review has been jarring for revealing just how much has happened in the last twelve months while I was busy being a seminarian. And more change is to come, I'm sure, whether I'm ready or not.
Bring it on.