Friday, June 11, 2010

Walk With Me Awhile

Almost done with this semester already. It seems to have gone quickly past, but it’s had so many events! I have flown from one thing to another living them each fully, but at break-neck speed! Writers tend to get unreasonably busy living life fully. We draw every drop of experience from everything we do.

Let me tell you about one particular week-end so you can get a sense of what I mean.

On Friday night of this particular week-end I watched a movie. Work had been long and I was tired. It was time to rest. Hanging over my head like a thunder cloud were several chapters of reading promised to be done by Sunday afternoon. But I couldn’t do it. I could not make myself pick up a book and try to retain one more speck of knowledge. I was in bed by 8:30 p.m. sleeping deeply.

Saturday morning found me bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:30 a.m. I wanted to complain about waking so early, but I had already slept so long my back was tired from laying still. There was nothing for it, but to get up and do something.

So I started with dishes and laundry and housework. I luxuriously enjoyed my morning coffee and dug into the homework reading. Such fascinating stuff! I love history. Before I knew it, it was time to start the two-hour drive to St. Paul for class. I checked to be sure I had everything I needed and off I went. Half of the reading cloud has dissipated and I wished again for an audio copy of my textbook.

A lovely drive, I must say. I know some people think I’m insane for driving two hours to get to campus, but I don’t mind it. I like why I’m going and it always makes me happy to be on the way. I love the season of my life where it is, but I do miss the Cities.

Discussions, questions, sharing life with a diverse population of incredible women: behind us the clock keeps ticking. Thrown about the room are ideas and expressions grown and developed from many different fields. Girlie girls and tomboys discussing the relevance of gender and what we will do about the labels placed upon us. How do we become the change we see needed in the world? An unexpected, incredible compliment from my professor gives me personal cause to dig a little into my self-perception. It occurs to me that I see myself differently from the inside out than the world sees me from the outside in. Before I know it, it’s 4:30 p.m. and I’m on my way to the next chapter.

Waiting for me at the train station at the Mall of America is a classmate. We are going to the Somali quarter of Minneapolis to meet other classmates and get a taste of a different culture. We find ourselves immersed in colors, textures, languages and foods we had only admired from afar. We are now the outsiders, the foreigners. Among ourselves we try to understand the great questions of assimilation, Americanisms and culture. We are quieter on the train ride home.

The cloud of guilt is beginning to rain upon me. Homework awaits me. I find myself a spot in a familiar coffee shop where I can concentrate and dig in.

It’s after 10:00 p.m. when I head for my “home” in Shakopee. I can hear the guest room beckoning me and I am thankful for its familiar warmth. At 11:00 p.m. I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m. and drift off.

Morning has barely stretched out the horizon when the alarm pushes me awake. On the road again by 7:30 a.m. I’m late to meet a friend who is passing through the Cities on her way home to Tulsa. The chances to see my friend are few and I must take this opportunity. Starting our conversation where we left off over a year ago, we gain strength from one another’s courage. The man of her dreams is with her this time. I enjoy meeting Prince Charming. I smile as I drive away content that my friend is moving toward a good season.

Off to school. I am too late to enjoy my normal Minnesota church service, but too early for class. I decide to go to campus and find a quiet place to read a bit and pray a bit and talk to Jesus about life in general. As I’m walking, I hear the most amazing voice coming from the campus chapel. An invisible line pulls me to my youth as I enter the Catholic Church doors. Grand in its appearance, austere in its command of respect, it envelops me. I sit in the back and drink in the memories drawn by the music, the expected responses, the formality of the mass, the reverent voices. I leave refreshed. For a short time before class, I sit in the garden and talk to Jesus. Peace He gives, it’s true.

Class again and this time we meet in the English garden. Sweet summer smells waft in and out of our discussions. Laughter, contemplations, sharing. Rain sprinkles outside of us, but we are tucked beneath the gazebo.

I stop for a quick coffee on the way out of town. Now the two hour drive yawns before me. My mind leaps from idea to idea over all of the layers of life lived in the preceding 48 hours. I smile and laugh to myself and think deeply about the concerned discussions I’ve heard.

Many people would perhaps close themselves into their quiet homes as quickly as possible after so much activity, but my week-end isn’t done yet.

Church starts at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday nights and my angelbabies are waiting for me. I duck in my apartment, wash my face, brush my teeth and head back out. I am very late so I sit in the back. I’m struck by the contrast between the morning mass and this evening’s service. Pentecostal worship is probably the exact flip-side to Catholicism. Children are dashing between their parents and other relatives. Women are smiling and commenting to one another. Men are clapping. Hands are raised across the building in surrender. The music is loud, boisterous, celebratory. Although there is a sense of order, it may not be obvious to an onlooker. It occurs to me that God really is everywhere.

My grandchildren see me and run back to my seat. Their smiles and kisses and questions wash over me.

It’s after 10:00 when a group of us head to McDonald’s for an ice cream after church. Giddy with exhaustion, we laugh and talk and sing.

I breathe deeply the experiences of my life. I feel very selfish, sometimes, enjoying my life as much as I do. I think I have too many good things. I see the suffering of others and wish I could give some of what I have to help them. But, truth be told, I really don’t have much to give. My riches are tied up in people and all that I receive from them.

The calendar page for Sunday slowly closes. Thanks, God.