Update on That Temporary Vocational Stretch

Stretch ArmstrongJust over a year ago I posted some thoughts on what I had dubbed my “temporary vocational stretch.”  I’m now one year into that stretch, and it seems that the stretch isn’t quite over.  In May, we made moves that would have brought my time coordinating chapel and helping with camps to a close, but it was not to be.

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A few weeks into the year, I realized that it would also be a year of “letting go.”  Because of other responsibilities, I knew (and was reminded often) that no one thing would get my full attention.  Those around me were gracious with me, students and adults.  And I had an amazing team to work with (as others were taking significant stretches, too).  The student-portion of the school year ended with uncertainty, which means that starting back in August with a sense of “second verse same as the first” that I’m not necessarily looking forward to (but that’s okay).

It has been a good stretch, though.  I’ve been able to process it some with a couple of people, though mostly making allowances for their own dispositions.  There are things looking forward that I feel a little more prepared for. (Wendell Berry would say this is like being around for a second year of farm work: you just know things that you had no clue about the first time around).

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Seth Godin recently posted some thoughts on “taking a stretch.”  He’s got some real wisdom there, I think, because “stretching” is one alternative amongst many.  From his blog:

There are two polar opposites: Staying still and Breaking. It’s easy to visualize each end of the axis, whatever the activity.

In between is stretching.

Stretching is growth. Extending our reach. Becoming more resilient, limber and powerful. Stretching hurts a bit, and maybe leaves us just a little bit sore.

But then, tomorrow, we can stretch further than we could yesterday. Because stretching compounds.

If you’re afraid of breaking, the answer isn’t to stay still. No, if you’re afraid of breaking, the answer is to dedicate yourself to stretching.

I remember well the relief I felt when our final chapel of the first quarter came to a close.  And I remember well the feeling of our last camp of the year brought to an end.  Even now, just a few weeks away from our last chapel (and a few more weeks away from our next), I have a difficult time believing it happened.  I’ll admit to feeling a little sore, a little tired, and in ways that aren’t necessarily easy to articulate to others to to get some recreative rest for.  But that’s the hope for the next few weeks: that in between the reading and gym, through travel and time spent with friends and family, some kind of rest can come and some kind of meaning and sense can be made of the good last year.

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Speaking of “good,” one of my unintentionally funny moments from the year’s end came at the end of our final faculty meeting.  I was introducing the theme for the next year and was closing us in prayer.  “We thank you God, for this year . . . that it is over . . .”  Unintentional pause.  Laughter in the audience and from myself.  “And that it was good.”

(image from dreaminplastic.com)

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