‘Tis the season for reflection…
I try once a year to summarize what I’ve learned in my journey of life. Some years it’s exciting, some years it’s succinct, some years it’s a stepping stone to what is next. I don’t yet know what this year is, but it has
been a time of internal change and new relationships with others.
Consistency: Christmas’ past
Some things have mostly stayed the same. I still live in Pasaden
a in a wonderful and comfortable home. I am joined in that home by my adorable pug, named Xiao Nu, and on the property by my co-owners. We’ve now owned our home almost eight years…it doesn’t seem that I’m
old enough for that! Xiao Nu has lived there for most of those years. My co-owners and I still feel like there is more work to do on the place, but it is very livable and we a blessed to have it.
Travel was limited, but still in my life. I began the year snowed in in Pittsburgh, PA and Dallas, TX within 5 days of each other…both places
encountering record snowfalls hindering travel home from conferences. I managed to get out of PA in time to get to TX, but still ended up stuck thereL. I’ve had a couple weekends away, including a
road trip to Monterey, and managed a personal retreat weekend, but there were no big trips.
God continues to reaffirm my
call to teaching and leadership within my roles at my school. I’m continually amazed by how much you LEARN as a teacher. My biggest lesson this year involved letting this amazing group of students go and staying out of their way. I
have been able to point them in a direction and then they have often surpassed my goals for their learning.
Change: Christmas present
My job has changed over the
past year. Last year was the first year for the Peace & Justice Academy, a secondary school that I co-founded. Because of the small number of students, I kept a consulting job with the school district I has worked with. This summer, the consulting job came to an end and I transitioned into a full-time position at the Peace & Justice Academy. I need to emphasize the “time” part of that. I am now teaching full-time, administrating full-time, working on admissions full-time, etc…if I could get back to the point where I was also being paid “full-time” life would be great! It’s an amazing calling and the students are simply amazing. The feedback we’ve gotten has also been great. We’re spending lots of time just talking to folks about the school. Our goal this year is “friend-raising.” There are so many amazing people in southern California to connect with.
My connections have also changed this year. One big change is losing my long-time housemate, Clare, back to England. This has left a big hole in the household. I could really use a new person to take up that space…walking past an empty bedroom has been no fun! In addition, some long-time friends have moved out of the area. It’s been a time of reconfiguring my time and connections to many people, including long-time community and church friends.
The biggest change of the year is how I see myself. I’m happier and more secure in who I am as a person than I ever have been. I’ve had wonderful new friendships come into my life this year, both sought after and spontaneous. There have been new and exciting relationships that have helped me discover who I am in connection with others. I’ve learned that the more you risk in relationships, the more you might gain. I’ve also come to re-appreciate some long-time friends who have consistently, quietly, and steadfastly walked beside me in my recent journeys.
Creativity: Christmas’ to come
Looking ahead is both risky and exciting. The Peace & Justice Academy continues to be a place for learning for me. The new connections I’ve made, and continue to make, constantly remind me of God’s faithfulness and that my welcoming should mirror God’s welcoming.
As I look ahead I hope I keep finding new answers to some of these questions:
What happens when I throw my arms open wide to the world? Surprises happen, I encounter myself in others, and God has a new space to be creative.
What happens when I tear down rules and restrictions that help me feel safe in the idea of “us” and “them”? I become vulnerable, reshaped, and aware that I am “them” and they are me. I become newly aware of God’s grace and how much I’ve received and often hoarded it.
What happens when I align myself and identify myself as someone many people in my life want to see as “them”? I am sometimes broken and hurt, but I am also sometimes a conduit of God to the new relationships around me. I also become aware again that God is faithful.
In this time of Advent, waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises, I pray we are all willing to be in the world, vulnerable and as conduits of love, just like the baby born as a gift from God.