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pre-Lent disciplines

dscn3066

I’ve let myself slip over the last six months.  I fell down the stairs at work the first weekend of September, and as soon as I was just feeling like I could get back to my exercise, I had a car accident (mid-October, not my fault) and the subsequent back issues didn’t begin to clear up till Christmas break.  I got a new job (finally!) teaching fourth grade at an inner-city Catholic school — this started two weeks before Christmas break, so with everything, I’m just getting to where I’m feeling caught up with everything there and able to spend some extra time catching up at home.  This includes (unfortunately) diet, exercise, house cleaning, and personal devotions.  Yes, I’ve gained weight since October 6, when I had actually dipped below the 140 mark. :(

Grades were due for midterms yesterday, so I’m not only caught up on classroom organization, but my grading is not a large pile glaring at me. Just this last week’s worth and a couple tests I had to wait for students to finish.  Plenty, yes, but I should be able to spend time tomorrow doing something else other than either grading or stalling getting started. :)

I decided, since the grading is done and Ash Wednesday is this week, I’d start my Lent discipline early — today.  My church doesn’t celebrate Lent, but for the past few years I have used it as a time to discipline myself either with my diet or in my spiritual life.  I’m feeling flabby, both physically and spiritually, so I’m going to try to do both this time.

Starting today, I will:

  • Track my food
  • Exercise at least to 10K steps daily — try to do more on the days I can get to the gym
  • Have personal devotions
  • Keep up with my grading!

I’d like to blog a few times a week too, but I know how that goes, and exercising and planning meals takes a lot of time!  So I will try, but no promises.

In looking for images for Lent, I came across one that pretty well sums up what I think it’s for:

lentmmcIt reminds me of the verse in Psalm 1 about the righteous person — “a tree planted by streams of water…whatever [he] does prospers.”

Prayerfully, I hope what I am trying to do in these next weeks prospers as well.

 

sadventist

adventists

One of my friends posted this picture on Facebook today, asking, “What kind of Adventist are you?”  I had to say “sadventist” today, considering the church service I’d just been through this morning.

Two summers ago we were sitting in a sermon by a layperson in the church who tends to have somewhat disjointed sermons with examples that may or may not actually prove the point he is trying to make (he has since improved somewhat, but not entirely).  Kent and I don’t always listen because we tend to sit there and mentally edit.  English teachers never sleep…

I was looking up Bible promises I wanted to memorize, when about fifteen minutes from the end of the sermon, he said, “I didn’t intend to bring this topic up today, but I feel like God has put it on my heart to share my concerns with you.”  Not thinking much of it, I listened as he started listing the dangerous decisions the church was facing.  This was before the election of 2012, when gay marriage was on the ballot, so I wasn’t surprised when that was one of the issues he mentioned (I hadn’t decided how I’d stand at that time, so was interested in hearing what he thought).  He named a couple of other issues I can’t remember now, and then brought up the topic of women’s ordination.

I grew up in New England.  Very conservative, but we did get a husband and wife team as pastors when I was a teenager, and I remember thinking at the time it was a shame we didn’t have women pastors, because the sermons the wife (seldom) preached were interesting and usually helped me see God in a way I hadn’t thought of in the past, because her viewpoint was different.  We also had the first Adventist woman pastor as the youth speaker one summer at campmeeting, and she mentioned how sometimes she was looked down on because she was a woman pastor.  But I hadn’t really thought a lot about the women’s ordination issue in the Adventist church until this summer Sabbath in Minnesota, years after both of those events.

This day, I was literally stunned at the flood of hurtful language that ensued.  None of the other topics he’d mentioned, though obviously serious to him, had gathered this level of reaction.  Among other things, he stated that any woman wishing to be ordained (or anyone who supported said woman in any way) was apostasizing and would not be saved.  He also stated (wrongly) that God never called any woman to be any kind of church leader or prophet (I could think of five off the cuff from the Bible, let alone Ellen White, our church’s prophet, whom I know he supports).  This vituperation went on for about ten minutes; then he seemed to realize he’d been off topic and went on to wrap up his sermon.  I can’t remember what the topic was, but he was completely off.

I was really angry while he was talking, upset that he was equating a woman wanting to serve God as a pastor with Sabbath-breakers, homosexuals, and people cheating on their spouses (I think those were the other three topics), and hurt that he would consider said woman apostate for daring to poach on a man’s territory.  I was also annoyed at his wrong statements, but it was the apostasy card that changed my feelings from anger (I was about to get up and either walk out or tell him to be quiet) to sadness.  About the time it really sank in that he was in effect barring over half the population of the church from ever filling a very important role (to a chorus of amens from members, some of whom were women!), he’d begun his belated wrap-up and I had to go play the closing hymn.

As they were singing, I suddenly realized that, to him, all I was good for in the church was playing the organ and helping with potluck.  Never mind I’d been one of the Sabbath School teachers for over a year at this point; to him I was most likely out of line in leading a Sabbath School.  I felt dismissed by the church I’d grown up in, dismissed to a lower position simply because of my gender, and as if no real contribution of mine would be accepted — not only not accepted, but if I ever tried to make a serious contribution to the church in any way but the acceptable ones, I would be labeled apostate and (in his mind) be headed for hell.

I came from anger that he would so cavalierly dismiss the brains, hearts, and dedication of one-half the population to grief that I was effectively barred and hedged into a limited role.  I have never, before or since, wanted to be a pastor, so I cannot understand why I started to cry as if something precious had been ripped away from me.  All I can say is that I felt dismissed, betrayed, and forced into the ultra-supporting role of Woman in a Man’s World by the church I believe holds the most truth of any church today.  I wept because I felt dismissed as worthless, because I felt betrayed by a church I thought would support the full development of every member’s spiritual gifts, and because I felt myself being pushed into the small and stifling box of The Woman’s Place by a God who was supposed to give me freedom and life abundant.

And at the same time, I knew it was only his viewpoint (and others in the church), and I was sure that he was wrong, that it wasn’t really what God wanted at all.  But it shocked me when other women agreed with him — how could they betray their own gender and submit to subservience so easily?  How could they sit there saying “Amen” when he was limiting the value of their service to God?  How could others in the church let him go on in hatred and anger for ten minutes and not stand up and say, “You are wrong!”

I found out later, after Kent took me crying out the back door of the church and we went home, that about half the members disagreed violently with him and there was a big argument at potluck.  The next weekend our resident pastor preached a sermon on the Biblical support for this other person’s standpoint, and he was everything that was tactful and well-thought-out.  The pastor was (still is) also a personal friend, and though I still cried because I again felt betrayed, if his sermon had been the week before, I would not have been affected in that way.  He was gentle, albeit convicted, and his sermon was not one to raise the ire or the sensibilities of those who disagreed.  He also did not condemn those of us who disagreed and the word “apostate” was not mentioned.  I did not feel excluded from service; I was simply sad that a friend would take a stand so divergent from mine on what I felt was an important issue.  I knew that he often sat in my Sabbath School class (the other person never has and hardly speaks to me — apostasy maybe rubs off?) and respected me as a leader, and that might have helped me not feel stifled as well.  In the end, we agreed to disagree with no condemnation on either side.

Since then, though, this has been a sore point for me.  I had never liked to sit through this other person’s sermons, simply because they weren’t very good (as on that day, he mistakes conviction for scholarship), but now every time he speaks, I find myself wanting to leave before I get attacked.  It’s been nearly two years now, and I have been trying to cultivate a Christ-like attitude toward him; I was contemplating giving piano lessons to his oldest son, and I try to say hello when I see him at church.  It’s difficult, but I have stopped ducking downstairs or just skipping church when I see he’s on the docket to speak.  I thought I could just, like my pastor friend, agree to disagree with him on this issue.  After all, I’m not planning to be a pastor myself, so I need to be less thin-skinned, right?

Today, we walked into church and he was on the platform.  I sighed, looked through my bag for my cross-stitch (which I’d left at home), and resigned myself to a meandering sermon that hopefully had some acquaintance with an actual point.  He had been getting better, so maybe today wouldn’t be so bad.  He was preaching on Nehemiah.  No women pastors there, so that should be ok.  I got out my legal pad to take notes on blog posts if I needed to be distracted.

Not fifteen minutes into the sermon he brought up the topic of women’s ordination, again couching it as apostasy and equating it with actual commandment-breaking.  I tried to distract myself with poking holes in his logic (there were several, including the fact that some of his examples actually contradicted the points he was trying to make, which was amusing, and that he tended to oversimplify or use false analogies to prove his points, which weren’t actually false in themselves).  At some point, though, I felt the disapproval, the worthlessness, the small box closing in, and I reacted the same way I had two years ago — I cried.  Call it an emotional female reaction, use it as an example of why women shouldn’t be in positions of power, but I do not understand why I react this way.

Today, things are different than two summers ago.  The Adventist church in North America has made steps toward accepting women’s ordination, and I now know that much of the church in North America supports the idea and feels it is long past time (as I do).  I still do not have any desire to become a pastor, but I do not feel that if I did, I would have no pulpit.  But I still reacted in the same way.  I still felt the word “apostate” like a slap to the face, and inwardly recoiled at being lumped with someone who denied the Sabbath or who engaged in extramarital affairs or non-Biblical sexual acts, just because I believe that women should be able to be pastors.  It was ironic, this sermon coming today, because I had just last night posted on Facebook as a joke someone’s list of ten reasons why men shouldn’t be pastors.  Maybe this person saw it; I don’t think I’m friends with him on Facebook, but maybe that prompted this attack today.

Kent said I should write out what happened and try to understand why I am so hurt by this.  I know some reasons why — I don’t like being told I can’t do something.  I don’t like it when people beat others over the head with the Bible to prove a point that isn’t a salvation issue.  I don’t like it when people make things a salvation issue when they’re not.  I don’t like being made to feel like a second-class citizen just because I don’t have a Y chromosome.  I don’t like being told that I’m a bad Christian/Adventist/daughter of God because I believe women should have an equal right within the church.  I don’t like being fobbed off with the false palliative “We aren’t telling women they can’t take part in the church, even preach if they want, just that we won’t ordain them”.

Yes.  The church will “commission” women, but not ordain them.  I don’t like my church being hypocritical.  We say we follow the Bible, but in this instance, I feel that we are following the worst traditions of man.  I know the texts people use to support their sides on this issue, and I’ll let you in on a secret: They. Are. The. Same. Texts.  And if our church can believe in a modern-day woman prophet (never mind the ones in Bible times — Deborah, Miriam, Huldah, the five daughters of Phillip, and Anna the seer, to name ones off the top of my head), why can’t we accept a woman pastor? Is it because all these unnatural women are safely in history, not prancing about exposing their thought processes to unsuspecting potential apostates?  I’ll try not to be too snarky, but I’m still annoyed.  I thought we were well past this as a nation and culture, and I know that our church is sometimes considered behind the times because of our conservatism, but I thought we were more accepting of women than to continue to limit their role.  And we are, some of us.  There are ordained women in our churches in California and other states.

So why do I continue to be so disturbed by what is, after all, a layperson’s opinion on an issue that doesn’t actually affect me?

I don’t know.  Maybe because it is a symptom of an ongoing problem with society to still consider women some sort of second-class citizen, to criticize everything we do and every choice we make, to pay us less, to penalize us both for having children and for having careers instead, to pawn off our opinions on how we’re treated as “emotional ranting”.  I watched this video last week about how white people can help to stop racism, and I understood exactly where she was coming from.  If the black woman in the video had stood up for herself, she would have been considered an “angry black woman”, much like any woman who talks about gender inequality is considered a man-hating feminist.  But since the white woman next to her spoke up, something happened.

Maybe that’s another reason I am upset that a seemingly well-educated and nice man would be so vituperative in such a patriarchal way.  Because as the majority ruling voice in this case, men should stand up for women’s rights.  Because change often doesn’t happen until a majority demands it, doesn’t happen when the oppressed minority speaks out.  Because I expect better from my church than to stay stagnated in an oppressive, outdated stance left over from a Middle Eastern society over two thousand years ago.  Because I want to know that, should I ever decide that I want the pulpit, my well-meaning fellow church member will step off his soapbox and let others have a chance to speak out.

“Come, let us reason together,” says the Lord. Isaiah 1:18

5377712-green-field-of-young-corn-under-the-sunlight

Every summer
I listen and look
under the sun’s brass and even
in the moonlight, but I can’t hear

anything, I can’t see anything—
not the pale roots digging down, nor the green stalks muscling up,
nor the leaves
deepening their damp pleats,

nor the tassels making,
nor the shucks, nor the cobs.
And still,
every day,

the leafy fields
grow taller and thicker—
green gowns lifting up in the night,
showered with silk.

And so, every summer,
I fail as a witness, seeing nothing—
I am deaf too
to the tick of the leaves,

the tapping of downwardness from the banyan feet—
all of it
happening
beyond all seeable proof, or hearable hum.

And, therefore, let the immeasurable come.
Let the unknowable touch the buckle of my spine.
Let the wind turn in the trees,
and the mystery hidden in dirt

swing through the air.
How could I look at anything in this world
and tremble, and grip my hands over my heart?
What should I fear?

One morning
in the leafy green ocean
the honeycomb of the corn’s beautiful body
is sure to be there.

“Little Summer Poem Touching the Subject of Faith” by Mary Oliver, from West Wind. © Houghton Mifflin, 1997. Reprinted with permission.

Monthly Check-In: April

If April showers bring May flowers, what do April snowstorms bring???

  1. Save money/get out of debt.
    • I will try to do the 52-Week Money Saving Challenge - Had to take the $$ out of that account to pay taxes. :(
    • Refinance the condo. - Need a job first. Yes.
    • As soon as I get a job (see #3), start smacking money down on our student loan/credit card debts! - I was able to sub about three weeks in April; I get paid for two of those weeks May 3rd, and the CC payments are already set up.  Not a whole lot, but everything will help!
  2. Lose weight. – Starting weight: 141#; Ending weight: 144#.
    • Track my foods. - Maybe a day or two.
    • Exercise (cardio) at least 5 days a week. - I didn’t exercise 5 days the week I was in Tennessee, but the other weeks I did.  I think.  Maybe one week when I was feeling cruddy I didn’t necessarily *go exercise*, but I did get at least 10K steps in on those days, and a couple hit over 15K (even a 20K).
    • Strength train at least 3 days a week. - Rock climbing and yoga — I think one week I fudged a little and only did a few squats one day, but otherwise *much* better.
    • Take the monthly Shrinking Jeans challenges. – I got as far as cutting six challenges up and pasting them together to do as a group.  That doesn’t make sense.  I know what I mean.  Basically I would be doing Day 1 of six challenges all together (like a regular ST routine), then Day 2, etc.  I want to do it this way because I don’t like doing squats 30 days in a row with no breaks in between.  So I’ve decided to do these on the days I don’t do yoga or rock climb.  About 3 days a week.  Once I get through 31 times, then I’ll try a ST routine from one of my magazines or something.  The point is to get a habit going.  Whew!
  3. Get a job.
    • For right now, get on the substitute lists. - Subbed most days I could.
    • Get a summer job. - Applied at about six or seven districts.
    • Get a full-time ESL job for the fall. - Have the license.  Applied at six or seven districts.  Will keep applying through May. Or till I get one.
  4. Get outside more.
    • Run, bike, and rock climb outside (weather permitting). - Walked outside a couple times; ran once (hurt my ankle AGAIN and had to walk back, grr).  Most of the month it was spitting a nasty mix of rain/sleet/snow.  What the radio people called a “slush storm”.  Yeah.  But the couple days it was nice, I did get outside.
    • Work on exploring more of the 60 Hikes in 60 Miles. – Nope.
    • Go camping. – Still waiting for spring…
    • Go to one of the destinations we’ve been wanting to — Ely, Mystery Caves, the Black Hills, Katahdin (if I get to ME this summer) - We didn’t go anywhere.  I went to TN, but nothing cool.  Although it was neat to see some friends, see how the campus had changed, and have a chat with my piano teacher.
  5. Be creative.
    • Blog at least 3x/week. – No, but I did better. Five posts in April, not counting this one, and not counting a couple in the works that will be back-dated.  So that’s a little more than one a week…
    • Finish cross-stitch projects and give to their owners! – No, but I finished the cross-stitching of the one I started Easter weekend and started another one of the same pattern with a color change to give to my grandmother.  I’ll post pics when I’ve gotten them both a little more finished.
    • Finish Jon and Ali’s quilt. - Didn’t touch it.
    • Practice the piano more. - I didn’t practice. At all.
  6. Spend more time with friends and family.
    • Do fun things with Kent. - We went rock climbing every Saturday night, with friends every time I think.  We also went to a concert — Britten’s “War Requiem” — awesome!  That was with a friend too and we had supper beforehand.
    • Get together with friends at least once a month for games or other event. - See above.  I also met up with a friend to walk the mall one day, and we met a couple other friends to chat at a restaurant (they ate; we didn’t).
    • Call my friends who live far away — one per week. - I did talk to one friend.  That’s one more than last month!
    • Write a note to someone every week. - I have the notes to write.  Didn’t write them yet.  A couple other friends lost family members in the last week, so that’s what they’re for.
  7. Spend more quality time with God.
    • Have real devotions every day. - I was more consistent, and was reading from the study books I have for the Bible study I help lead every weekend, but that’s a different focus.  I am really short on time and sleep, though, so maybe that will have to be enough for now.
    • Memorize at least 1 Bible verse every day. - I didn’t get 30, nor did I do it every day, but I memorized the rest of Romans 1 the last week and a half of April — verses 18-32.  Gonna start Romans 2 in May. :)
    • Pray every day! - I did pray, but more when I needed something than to just talk with God.  I did thank Him several times just out of the blue for nice things, but it was hard to feel thankful with the weather the way it was. I guess I need to work on that.

April was a really odd month for me.  I started out, of course, in TN spending time in the hospital with my grandfather, who died the day after I left to come home.  So April has been a month of thinking about grief and mortality, shedding tears at odd times for no particular reason (or for a reason — during Britten’s “War Requiem” — it was cathartic), and reconnecting with family members.  I may not have called friends, but I talked to my mom, my aunt, my brothers, and my grandmother more than usual. Even my mother-in-law got a lot more calls.

I was pleased that I had held my weight from the end of February (141#) through about the middle of April, though I was eating a lot of sugar and not necessarily exercising the way I should.  The last week or so I gained three pounds and started feeling really *fat* and flabby (without knowing how much I’d gained).  It was interesting to note that, actually, because I had laughed at a really skinny friend in Bangkok who used to complain that she’d gained a kilo (about 2.2#), because I thought it was such a small amount you wouldn’t notice.  Now I know you can tell even that small amount, when you are close to the weight you should be.  I’m planning on stepping up my strength training (see 2.4 above), so hopefully I should be seeing more progress in the right area soon!

In addition to subbing, I also did a focus group on how I use the library (lol) and picked up a homebound student for tutoring. I’ve seen her twice this week and will be seeing her till school gets out, about five hours a week, to try to get her graduated from eighth grade.  So that’s some extra money.  We’re really short this month but I am trying to get on top of it.  Kent will be out of school the middle of May and I hope he can find something this summer that will pay a decent amount.

In other news, I managed to get the house more or less cleaned up on the days I didn’t sub, and undecorated the Christmas tree today and got all the decorations in their boxes and by the door to go down.  The tree itself is still up but Kent said he’d maybe get to it Thursday or Friday.  But the bathrooms have been cleaned in living memory, and the floor has been vacuumed at least once if not twice, and *most* of the laundry is off the floor.  We sound like slobs, and we actually don’t mean to be, but the schedules we’ve been keeping are rather horrendous.  But if I can keep more or less on top of it, then it is at least manageable in the odd half hour here and there.

So that’s April for you — small improvements, and hope for the next month.  See you then!

slow to fade…

Snuffed-Candle-21

Dirge without Music

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, — but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

.

My mother-in-law sent this to me yesterday, thinking of my family after my grandfather’s death earlier this month.  I couldn’t say it any better, honestly.  I believe that Pop-pop is sleeping in the grave, waiting for the Second Coming when we will all be reunited with loved ones and spend a glorious eternity in heaven with God (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  I believe this with all my heart, and thank God that he is out of pain now.

But we are left to remember the crinkle in the eyes as he showed us a puzzle, or the timbre of his voice singing or reading the Bible, his wisdom and wit as he led his family (even to the great-grandchildren!) in godly lives, the hands that did many honest days’ work, and the approval shown to any of us who achieved even a small victory.  We remember. We know. And — I am not resigned to their loss.

It seems like a contradiction, really.  But God forbid I, as a Christian, should be resigned to death! Death was not in God’s plan, and He has done everything possible to erase it for us.  The promise of Easter (and Pop-pop died not quite a week after Easter) is that death has no hold on us.  Death is conquered.  It is not forever.  So we should not be resigned, not in that way.  We should fight against death, not in the way Dylan Thomas said — “Rage, rage against the dying of the light,” but fight death every day in our actions, our speech, even our thoughts.  We should strive for heaven– a closer relationship with God, and work to bring His kingdom sooner.  That is how we fight death. For when “death is swallowed up in victory” then John Donne’s poem will also ring true for our hearts — “One short sleep past, we wake eternally,/And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

I am not resigned. Praise be to God.

After learning my flight was detained 4 hours,
I heard the announcement:
If anyone in the vicinity of gate 4-A understands any Arabic,
Please come to the gate immediately.

Well—one pauses these days. Gate 4-A was my own gate. I went there.
An older woman in full traditional Palestinian dress,
Just like my grandma wore, was crumpled to the floor, wailing loudly.
Help, said the flight service person. Talk to her. What is her
Problem? we told her the flight was going to be four hours late and she
Did this.

I put my arm around her and spoke to her haltingly.
Shu dow-a, shu- biduck habibti, stani stani schway, min fadlick,
Sho bit se-wee?

The minute she heard any words she knew—however poorly used—
She stopped crying.

She thought our flight had been canceled entirely.
She needed to be in El Paso for some major medical treatment the
Following day. I said no, no, we’re fine, you’ll get there, just late,

Who is picking you up? Let’s call him and tell him.
We called her son and I spoke with him in English.
I told him I would stay with his mother till we got on the plane and
Would ride next to her—Southwest.

She talked to him. Then we called her other sons just for the fun of it.

Then we called my dad and he and she spoke for a while in Arabic and
Found out of course they had ten shared friends.

Then I thought just for the heck of it why not call some Palestinian
Poets I know and let them chat with her. This all took up about 2 hours.

She was laughing a lot by then. Telling about her life. Answering
Questions.

She had pulled a sack of homemade mamool cookies—little powdered
Sugar crumbly mounds stuffed with dates and nuts—out of her bag—
And was offering them to all the women at the gate.

To my amazement, not a single woman declined one. It was like a
Sacrament. The traveler from Argentina, the traveler from California,
The lovely woman from Laredo—we were all covered with the same
Powdered sugar. And smiling. There are no better cookies.

And then the airline broke out the free beverages from huge coolers—
Non-alcoholic—and the two little girls for our flight, one African
American, one Mexican American—ran around serving us all apple juice
And lemonade and they were covered with powdered sugar too.

And I noticed my new best friend—by now we were holding hands—
Had a potted plant poking out of her bag, some medicinal thing,

With green furry leaves. Such an old country traveling tradition. Always
Carry a plant. Always stay rooted to somewhere.

And I looked around that gate of late and weary ones and thought,
This is the world I want to live in. The shared world.

Not a single person in this gate—once the crying of confusion stopped
—has seemed apprehensive about any other person.

They took the cookies. I wanted to hug all those other women too.
This can still happen anywhere.

Not everything is lost.

.

Poem by Naomi Shihab Nye (b. 1952), “Wandering Around an Albuquerque Airport Terminal.”

Reblogged from Olivia Circe.

patience rebooted

april showers

lace is overrated

So we’re up to the third snowstorm in oh, a week and a half.  I’m looking out my window at the dropping dusk and watching the too-familiar white lace build up on my favorite maple tree.

It’s pretty.  It is.  I love winter. But — can I just be a little frustrated?  I would have loved it twice or three times as much in November, when the days were darkening and everything was so brown and dead I lit five or more candles on the kitchen table where I was working and nursed cup after cup of hot tea.  November.  December.  Sure, January or February too, though by that time the winter had gotten itself going and we at least had some snow to look at.  But April?  April 22, no less; Earth Day, when schoolchildren everywhere are supposed to go out and plant a tree or a flower, or even a few seeds!

Yeah.  Instead, we had a lowering day going to rain with snow spitting in, and then just flat-out snow.  It’s supposed to get as much as nine inches of wet, slushy, mess.  Last week the weather forecaster called it a “slop storm” — that was for the second one.  Now we’re on to the third.  Anyone who knows me knows I like snow, but everything has a time and a place.  It’s just plain depressing to look out at the tail-end of April and see fresh snow (maybe that should be the “back-end”?).

So I’m carrying my laundry up the stairs, thinking about how I’ll have to go out in the slush in a few minutes and wondering just what exactly I’m annoyed about anyway.  I mean, a month ago this snow wouldn’t have been such an issue (it also wouldn’t have been as wet, but that’s another thing).  Snow in the end of March, at least at the latitudes where I grew up and now live, is…par for the course. Business as usual.  Even into the beginning of April, sure.  But I have expectations.  I expect that somewhere in April, the mysterious alchemy of Spring will start creeping up AND NOT STOP.  That’s probably part of the problem right there.  Just as I start to see grass, whomp! another snowstorm.  Delayed gratification?  Or dashed hopes?  Something.

But I was thinking too, why do I like snow in the first place?  It’s pretty.  Most of the time, too, the weather is crisp and invigorating.  Snowy days make me want to go play outside, then come in and curl up with a blanket and a book, some hot tea, and maybe a candle or some Christmas lights.  (Got the Christmas lights — still.  Don’t judge.)  I still have books, candles, tea, blankets, and a comfy beanbag.  I didn’t ditch those when March blew out the door.  I don’t particularly want to go play in the squishy mess outside, but I can skip straight to the snuggling anytime.  So why the annoyance with this late spring snow?

Back in March, when I went to the Christian women’s conference, one of the workshops was about how to fight disappointment.  The speaker’s main point was if you don’t make unrealistic expectations (and, incidentally, also forget to tell other people about them), you will have less disappointment in your life.  I don’t actually think it is *that* unrealistic to expect sunny (sunnier?) days and the beginnings of spring in April — we actually did have it last year.  But it is unrealistic, in my admittedly not vast life experience to expect spring in Maine or Minnesota to just sweep over the land without a few hiccups along the way.  So this is more along the lines of a large belch (or snow vomit?), rather than a hiccup.  I should still stop complaining.  At least I’m not looking out from the underside of a bridge or something, right?

But the other reason I thought that I might be longing for spring so much, aside from the months of winter we’ve just had, is that this year, spring to me has a lot more riding on it than balmy weather and a profusion of lilacs.  Those are wonderful on their own, I will be the first to admit, but Kent also reminded me that I am the first to complain about the heat and humidity of summer.  (No, I don’t like most of Minnesota’s weather, actually.  Yes, we aren’t planning on living here much longer that we have to, why do you ask?)  No, the reason(s) I’m really looking forward to spring are more — careerish than sun-tannish.

I finally have my ESL license (got the e-mail the same day I found out my grandfather died — not surprised it didn’t get a lot of media attention…), so this spring/summer is when I’ll hopefully land a full-time job for next year! Four (more) years of cleaning toilets done!  (Then I can complain about grading…)  So my hopes are riding on what spring will bring to me financially, after six years of living very close to disaster — a chance to actually MAKE a budget and then, of course, stick to it, because it will include space to, say, buy new running shoes or go out to eat once in a while.  Not that we didn’t do those things, these last years — we did.  But we’ve also run up a bunch of credit card debt in the process.  It will feel a lot better to me to say, “I can save up for this pair of shoes — that is in the budget”, rather than “I need a new pair of shoes but I have no money; I guess I’ll have to add that to the card.”

So spring to me means sunshine, flowers, a chance to go OUTSIDE without burying my face in my scarf/collar/hair, training for a marathon, hiking, and all the other wonderfulness that spring means to those of us who live in the cold and frozen northlands.  But this year, I guess I just want spring to come so I can feel secure.  Given that reason, I guess it doesn’t really matter that there’s another helping of slush piling up outside.  The job will come when it comes.  Just like spring.

Hey, at least I’m not under a bridge…

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