Wednesday, December 15, 2010

At this moment, this very day, exactly two weeks remain before I fly out for Prague; today is Wednesday, and two Wednesdays from now, I will be (God willing) en route to Chicago, Frankfurt, and last of all Prague.

I'm writing this note from my old office at the university, with Christmas music playing in the background. Above me on the filing cabinet towers a stack of exams and papers from my literature class, all graded; and in front of me, on yet another filing cabinet, sit two huge stacks of graded Expository Writing papers. All that remains for me here at the University is to submit the official grades, clean off my desk, and turn in the keys.

Knowing my own taste in deep, philosophical thinking, I realize how easily this post could become maudlin, a melodramatic reflection on 2 1/2 years spent in the zoo that is a college town, years that swung wildly between frustration with my work and satisfaction in my work. And so, I refuse to muse on for eight paragraphs on the ebb and flow of life (plus, I have no idea whatsoever how I could possibly fill all those paragraphs on such a nebulous topic; not even English majors can write on forever). As I say goodbye to students and old friends here, and prepare to meet new students and new friends halfway around the world, I only want to celebrate New Year's a tad early: a celebration that reflects on the good my time here has brought me, and looks forward to the blessings to come.

As I left Bob Jones, there were certain things that I missed most of all: the literature classes that ended with more than 100 pages of computer-typed notes, speaking in German with friends there, the stunning Shakespeare performances (one of the only times I've truly enjoyed Shakespeare). Here too, there are things that I will miss, remembered now as
snippets of stories.

A professor last semester taught Hegel and Kant with illustrations of algae, ducks and lasagna, and another (my very first year in graduate school) patiently allowed her first-year students to queue up outside her door, long lines snaking down the hallways, while she critiqued our papers before we turned them in.

A student this semester asked for help regularly on her papers, and in exchange, gave me random biology facts (antibacterial soap is actually bad for us humans, since it teaches bacteria to resist our medicines), and another student e-mailed me his personal interpretation of "The Most Dangerous Game", one that was unique, creative - and correct.

A group of friends, who spirited me away to the self-serve frozen yogurt place (Orange Leaf, which was delicious) as a treat and loaned me the Percy Jackson series for some serious light reading this semester. Also, my friends listened to (perhaps 'put up with' would be a better word choice) my chatter about Orson Scott Card.

All of these stories (and more!) I will remember from my time here at the University, which is swiftly (almost too swiftly) coming to an end. But, as T.S. Eliot points out,
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make and end is to make a beginning.
As I end my time here at the University, I am also beginning my six months in Prague. I promise, for every story included here about the university, I will have more about Prague. For now, though, I simply ask for your prayers in the following areas:

Please pray for a safe and timely flight. As many of you know, the last time I flew to Europe my flight was rerouted from a direct Kansas City-Newark-Berlin flight to a more indirect one: Kansas City-Cleveland-Newark-Lisbon-Frankfurt-Berlin, thanks to mechanical issues and weather issues. I would prefer not to have such an indirect flight this time, particularly since I will only have about five days to get over jet lag and prep for the first day of class on January 3. On Sunday, the weather was freezing cold but gorgeous - blue skies. I am praying for just such a day on December 29.

Please pray for my Stateside preparations. So far this month, I've graded . . . and graded . . . and graded a little bit more (literally hundreds of papers pass through my hands between the beginning of December and the end of the term). All this means is that I've spent less time than needed on Prague preparations, and there's still so much more to do. Pray that I will be able to get everything done, and done well, before the flight takes off.

Finally, please pray for the classes I will teach. Again, many of you know that I volunteered for the local homeschool group this semester and taught American literature. As we worked through each of the books, from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography to F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, we integrated biblical truth and literary studies, and I hope to do exactly the same thing as a teacher at the Christian International School of Prague. Pray that God will give me wisdom and creativity as I present each work to the students, and that they too will grow not only academically but also spiritually over the next six months.

In the end, this is what New Year's celebrations are about, looking back at all our blessings and looking forward with expectation and hope for new ones yet to come. Given the looming economic crisis and the political upheaval, the next year is certain not to be pretty or peaceful, but it is certain to bring with it God's goodness and blessing. As I prepare to leave for Prague, it is good to remember particular experiences and blessings from the last 2 1/2 years at the University and to look forward to a new stage of life, and to new divine workings.

See, now they vanish,
The faces and places, with the self which . . . loved them,
To become renewed, transfigured, in another pattern.
~ T.S. Eliot, "Four Quartets"

1 comment:

  1. Best wishes and prayers to you, Megan. It will be amazing!