Thanks to extra concurrent-learning prep during fall break 2020, the summer vacation has started earlier for me and my co-workers. Our last official day of work was this past Friday, and that was mostly meetings and planning for said meetings. Saturday was graduation. And, for the most part, that’s all she wrote for the 2020-2021 school year. While I’ve got a few things to take care of here and there, I am hopeful that most of June will be a school-free zone for me.
It’s odd, not having vague but certain things hanging over my head just out of sight. I’ve had it easier than some, but the last school year has felt like there was always something to write or to record or to report or to work into place. Many teachers that I’ve spoken to are deeply excited about having something close to a “normal” summer. Same for me. Yesterday was Memorial Day, which was low-key for me (the highlight was a win at cards after a short set of losses). Today has been for trying out a new summer routine, an attempt to see if the gym would be as viable in the morning as in the afternoon and whether or not I could carve out some time to get some reading and writing done later in the day. It’s an attempt at something new because I’ll be flying out in a few days. But if I can have a sketch of a routing for mid-June to late-July, I would be very happy.
So June is mostly responsibility-free (sounds odd to put it that way, I know). I’ll be preaching three times in July, pulpit supply since our pastor recently resigned. And then school starts back the last full week of July. I’ll start back earlier than that because I help plan out that first week back.
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Years ago, when I first stepped into what I called my “temporary vocational stretch,” I thought a good bit about destabilization- how things were kind of wobbly because of added responsibilities. Covidtide has added to that. And so part of my hopes for this summer is to do some re-stabilization. Reconsider some commitments. Pray through some dispositions. Ask God for a sense of renewal in some things and a sense of finality for others. I’ve tried to make it clear that my intent for 2021-2022 is to NOT do things the way that I’ve always/often done them. I’m keeping that in mind as I think through some of those “first week back” responsibilities.
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Church was interesting this past Sunday. It was our first without our pastor, who had been with us for just short of two years. Our worship leader was also out. It was good to hear people from the front acknowledge our new/current situation. I imagine this will just be one more punch that we roll with. I believe that God has some things to show us and teach us over these next few weeks. I hope I am able to listen and able to allow for more than just confirmation bias.
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At the last faculty meeting of the year, I reiterated the gratitude for our faculty and staff that others had shared. I also reiterated encouragement for people to take a real break. And then I said something about taking time to process and pray through your emotions, because there are always emotions just beneath the surface of year-end excitement. I had a co-worker ask me about it later, which I found encouraging. I think I couched it in “don’t come back in the same shape you are leaving” (though less harsh). Because fatigue works itself out in lots of ways over a longer period of time, so glossing over things (though easy) shouldn’t be an option.
I’ve got two “professional development” opportunities lined up for this summer. I put PD in air quotes because it’s not so much about professional development as it is nurturing some pre-existing learning. Next week I’ll get to “attend” a virtual classroom about Augustine and preaching put on by New City Press: Preaching the Gospel of John with Saint Augustine: A Master Class with Rowan Williams and John Cavadini. I read a collection of essays by Cavadini a couple of years ago (Jamie Smith had mentioned the collection). I just recently finished a book about monasticism by Williams that I quite liked, too. So I’m hopeful. Then, later in June, I’m starting a six-week series called “Religion and the Spiritual Crisis” with Andrew Root and Tripp Fuller. I’ve read more Root than probably any other author in the last two years (besides maybe Ben Aaaronovich and his Rivers of London novels). While I don’t agree with everything Root asserts, he has been deeply beneficial in thinking about Our Current Moment, particularly from a youth ministry perspective. So I’ve got to read some more Charles Taylor for the course (just selections from A Secular Age along with a couple of chapters of a shorter book of his that I’ve already read) along with a bit of Hartmut Rosa, who book on uncontrollability I read at the same time as Williams’ monastic book. And that will take me to the beginning of the school year.