Welcome to the new blog where you’ll find some older posts folks have found helpful over the last few years as well as new ones in the days to come.
This new website marks another bend in the path I have been traveling finding a way to live into the multiple vocations and passions that are my life. These last few years have been good but, I should also admit, they have been hard too.
It has been hard to realize that as much as I love the classroom, as much as I worked for years to land a tenure-track faculty position (and as much as my students testified to my giftedness), a fulltime professorship is not a good fit for me in this season of life while my children still orbit around the gravitational pull of mom. It’s not forever but it is a significant season. I had to come to admit to myself (and to others) that I do not have the kind of body (energy level + speed + serenity) to be able to “balance” a fulltime academic job with the kind of parenting I want to do. A few years ago a female colleague of mine wisely pushed back against the idea of “work-life balance” insisting that the scale may be balanced—equally weighted on both sides—but one can still be crushed by the combined load.
Honestly, it felt like failure. All those years of grad school… All those sacrifices to get the degrees to be able to do the work I felt I was made to do… Too few years in the classroom… Too few jobs in the academy… Too often it felt like failure.
I have been battling that narrative for some time now.
Thankfully, early in this season, I was invited on retreat with a dear friend who frequents an Orthodox monastery in western NY. In their guesthouse I ran across a book which proved a life-saver: Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life. Rohr pastored me through the season of confusion, advising me to stay in the place of unknowing and grief, but also speaking from a land I had not yet reached, the second half of life, that season we enter into when the plan falls apart, the answers no longer satisfy the questions, when we reach the edge of the map and find new lands inviting us to walk forward by faith but not by sight.
Now, instead of creating lectures, I am learning how to make a documentary. Now, rather than writing what I need to write to secure tenure, I get to work on what I think needs to be written. Now, I can spend more time with people, churches, communities wrestling with similar questions. Now, in place of worrying about whether I will keep my job if I begin to think for myself, I am free to follow my conscience—listening for the voice of the Spirit even if I think She is singing in a different key.
(Of course, if the right job came along, in the right location, with a living wage, a humane pace, and academic freedom to boot... you better believe I'd check it out. But today I'm celebrating different gifts in a different season.)
For those of you who have been with me on this journey, thank you for walking with me, or more often sitting with me in the place of unknowing, undoing. For those who have loved me from a distance, thank you for reaching across the void, writing notes, offering prayers, encouraging me to not to give up.
If this blog were a book, I would dedicate it to you…
To those who walk,
lie on the ground a while,
get up again,
and reach out a hand to the rest of us,