Walking and writing are the two activities that seem to most lend themselves to my mind actually untangling thoughts and processing them. Today has been a very grey and sleepy sort of Sunday, and by this evening (actually, by late this morning) I was feeling more than a touch of cabin fever and finally worked up the motivation to go for a walk.
It’s amazing what half an hour of walking outside does for getting my brain out of a rut.
Random thoughts and observations from my brief excursion.
- As I walk out of the teachers’ complex, I pass the dean of the Tourism department (Shark) who is engaged in fake sneezing to make his coworker’s baby giggle.
- My mental jukebox really doesn’t believe in stopping, except for maybe when I’m asleep, and I find myself singing The Seven Joys of Mary (although I’m a little fuzzy on a couple of the verses). This leads to thinking about a conversation that Rebekah and I had four years ago on a drive between Ohio and Pennsylvania. As I recall it, she asked what I was most grateful for about how my parents raised me, and I said, “Knowing that there are consequences — good and bad — for everything.” (Watching It’s a Wonderful Life every year probably didn’t hurt in learning that lesson.) I’ve realized that I am also deeply appreciative for the wide and deep breadth of Christian traditions that I was exposed to — more than exposed to, that were made a part of me. Music, literature, real life relationships. All of that shaped me and I’m profoundly grateful to the people who gave me that and who put up with me learning it. I was (I can all but feel at at least a few friends raising their eyebrows at the past tense) more than a little argumentative. And sure that I was basically always right.
- It is really mind-blowingly cool that stories of individuals come and go through Scripture, but even those who seemed like major characters fade out in the end, and everything is focused on Him.
- I need to reread some of the minor prophets, because they’re all sort of lumped and scrambled in my mind.
- Spring is definitely here. Multiple trees and bushes on campus are in full flower and there are sweet little leaves covering branches like a green mist.
- One of the lovely things about living for a while on a fairly small campus is building relationships through very random interactions. “Hi!” a young woman calls to me as I say, “Hey!” As we pass each other, I realize where I know her from — she works in the printshop section of a store where I usually take my flash drive once a week to print things. Since she’s a student and is happy to practice her English, we’ve actually talked a bit.
- Interesting. An old man is fishing in the extremely green-organic-substance-covered, lethargic creek near campus. He or someone else has mostly cleared a patch of the creek by putting out bamboo rods to hold back the green.
- Growing up is hard. Also fascinating. I find areas that I need to grow in (confidence in leading is one that I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past month) and then what seems like the opposite of those (working within the structures of leadership that are over and around me.) At the same time.
- There’s a sign over the highway that runs outside of campus warning drivers that there’s a school ahead and to reduce their speed. Also signs showing pictures of what look like children… Okay yes, please drive carefully and don’t run over my students… but this is college. I hope that they have acquired the necessary skills to check traffic before running across the street.
- Smiling at people is such a pleasantly cross-cultural way of relating and conferring some dignity. When I was a kid, I used to frequently play a game with myself while shopping to see how many strangers I could get to smile back at me by smiling at them. Little did I know I’d be playing the same game on the other side of the world a decade and a half later…
- China. The place where students have no compunctions about stopping in the middle of the campus road — where cars are driving — to tie their shoe instead of taking a few more steps to get to the side of the road.
- It’s a crazy thought that I’m a little over halfway through my time on this campus. While there are a lot of people and places that I miss in the US, this place is also my home and full of people who I’ll one day miss. Like the guards. I’m still not precisely sure about what they’re guarding us from, but I do love saying hi to them every time I leave and enter our complex.
- I am so extremely thankful to be teaching the same students this semester as I did in the fall. Spring semester is fun (I think it feels far less draggy than the fall semester does, maybe because it’s getting warmer and campus becomes increasingly alive and everyone looks forward to summer) and it makes all the difference in the world to be facing that busy fullness with students who I already know a bit and not with the additional craziness of trying to learn hundreds of new names and faces.
- Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of being a light-bearer. Also about Mark 4:37-41. And lighthouses. And love. I love that Jesus rebukes His disciples not for waking Him up (after all, He is the right person to command the storm to calm down) but for their panicking fear.
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