Friday, September 3, 2010
Slowing down to the speed of Real....
At the moment, I'm waiting for John the Painter to come finish painting. All the furniture has been huddled in the middle of each room, like some post-modern football game. I walk in and excuse myself for interrupting play.
I'm waiting for the semester to begin. There was orientation for new faculty this week, vastly disorienting because I'm decades older than the other new professors. But they didn't treat me like a mom -- and I didn't treat them like children. I can already tell I'm lucky to have such creative and energetic colleagues.
I'm waiting to finish writing an Advent commentary, which has been the work of the last few weeks. Advent is a season of waiting. As I reach for the right words, I realize how appropriate the posture is to the liturgical season. Which hasn't made the waiting any less frustrating, but given it slightly more gravitas.
In contrast, I see that the earlier weeks since my arrival in mid-July have been a rush of activity. People comment on how much I've gotten done -- and it's true. But high productivity is like a drug to me: it's not called "workaholism" for nothing! James Joyce put the addiction more elegantly in "Dubliners:" "Rapid motion through space elates one." I've been elated, giddy almost, with all this rapid motion, all this activity, all these people, all these meetings.
And now that so much has been accomplished, there's nothing left to do but wait for things to begin. All the trappings for it -- paint and permits, bank accounts and dry cleaners, furniture and pictures -- have been graciously settled. There's nothing left to do but live into it all. Real spaces in real time.
I remember that at the beginning of our trek to Santiago de Compostela, Lisa and I were appropriately elated. We set out strong and vigorous, striding up hills and sluicing down scree. We kept that up for a couple of days. Then The Blisters arrived. We tended them every morning; we stopped earlier in the afternoon to simply sit and let the air blow through our toes. We waited for our feet to heal -- at least enough for the next day's walk. Blisters were real -- and our pace slowed to reflect that.
I'm happy not to have The Blisters to deal with this time, but something analogous is happening. I'm slowing down to the speed of Real: real life, real time, real spaces. Elation is finally pretty evanescent: it comes and goes. Beneath it, though, is a steady pulse of joy.
The painter has come -- I'm off.