Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Do you think of life in seasons? I tend to. The rhythms of my years follow academic calendars (since, for the past 20 years or so, I have been either a student or a teacher, or both). Often when I meet people with non-academic jobs, one of the first things I ask is whether they miss summer vacation, whether their internal clocks ding somewhere around early June with the insistence that it's time for a different pace, lazy mornings and laundry hung in the back yard.

Yesterday, inspired by cooler breezes and the start of a new term, I was possessed with a deep urge to simplify, to purge the stacks and piles and to wipe away all the dust and grime of a busy summer (or year). I relegated reams of paper to recycling, filed pounds more in their proper folders, rearranged furniture, edited accessories. And now I sit in (relative) peace, with a tidy desk and essays to be read before this afternoon's class.

Today I am 25. Today I am also beginning my final fall semester of course work. This week Josh and I dive headlong into change: he begins his new grad program, I take on new tasks in mine, we look ahead to entirely different schedules, challenges, rhythms. Is this part of being 25? Does 25 mean grown up enough to let go of comfortable habits, grown up enough to pursue more stringent discipline in one's own life? Does 25 mean old enough to drink black coffee and take risks with the chances one's been given instead of clinging to the railing? Does 25 mean old enough to finally know how to love people without the shadowy fear of vulnerability and pain?

Twenty-five, for me, means hope about the notebooks and pencils and growing stack of articles and books near my desk. It also carries hope about new relationships and folks to love. I put on sparkly jelly shoes sent in a birthday box sent by parents who know me only too well, and I hope for healing this year--in my grandma's body, in my family's life, in my neighborhood--yet the hope is of a different sort than the hope I carried twenty years ago, with five-year-old feet in similar jelly shoes (whispy hair just as messy, though, and shoulders just as summer-sun brown). I am learning (slowly) about the way sorrow tempers hope, the way silence can strengthen prayer.

I suppose, then, that the theme here is change and learning: hope and growing. May it be so.

1 comment:

  1. Happy Birthday, Cindy!

    And, yes, I do miss summer vacation and Christmas break and changing class schedules (though I can still look forward to summer vacations). All of those things give a person something to look forward to. Like, life might be difficult or crazy or frustrating now but it will all change in a few months. For me, 25 means learning to find joy in moments when life doesn't have such frequent changes.