And so the school year comes to an end. Today is the first full day of summer vacation. And while I have to go in for a couple of hours (or at least should), it’s nice to be done with the year. The end of any semester is always a sprint, the end leading up to graduation even more so.
Because I teach seniors in the spring, my grades have been done for a good while. In place of a grade crunch, though, there were meeting agendas to plan and presentations to prep for. Things wrapped up relatively well on that account. I work with great people. It wasn’t as next-year focused as I would have preferred, but that’s okay. It gives me a little more time to get my act together on some key things.
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The Gospel reading for this past Friday, my last day of meetings, was the story of Mary and Martha with Jesus in Luke 10:
38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
It was an apropos reading for me, as it’s a picture that I’ve come back to a few times over the last two years of my “temporary vocational stretch.” More on that later. It is enough to say that I am hopeful that I will get a few weeks of “feet listening” than “distraction by preparations.”
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I really liked this recent classic Peanuts strip about the end of the school year. It “works” on multiple levels.
More on Charlie Brown’s summer camp experience later.
It reminds me of another moment from the Gospel of Luke, this one a story that Jesus told.
24 “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ 25 When it arrives, it finds the house swept clean and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.”
I know that Jesus didn’t intend this to be a commentary on people and what happens when their schedules open up, but there’s a principle there, something with a little more depth than “nature abhors a vacuum.” I suppose this brings the post back to the title, unwinding not unraveling. It’s good to try and plan for the transition between “full” and “empty.” There’s always the possibility that wrapping something up will bring more disaster than delight. And that can easily set you up for a rough beginning to what’s next. I’ve definitely got ideas and plans for starting my summer well. But I’m also aware of the frustrations and pitfalls. It doesn’t have to be anymore of a “things fall apart” moment than any given time in life. But it doesn’t have to be a rush from the classroom to the camp bus, either.
(image from gocomics.com)