Monday, June 11, 2007

Settling Into Summer

It seems impossible that Commencement is already four weeks behind us. I'm still revelling in the warm glow of graduating my younger daughter and her new job (which starts in just a couple of months). We are now officially a family of educators. My wife, Darlene, works as a Jr. Hi. librarian. Emily, my older daughter, will be adjuncting at the college this fall, teaching Composition and Linguistics (before hopefully starting a doctoral program in the spring). And now Evangeline will be heading up the Pre-K program in Kincaid, a rural community a little over an hour north of here. I guess if one is concerned about legacy, mine will have something to do with educating the next generation.

I'm working on revising an article that will be published around Christmas time entitled, "The Liturgical Reordering of the Ecclesia Anglicana: Faithful Understanding in the Elizabethan Homilies of 1563," in Anglican and Episcopal History. I have a longer article which will appear in the Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy--2007 about the same time which sketches something of the history of collections of homilies for congregational catechesis. Both of these came out of my wonderful sabbatical at the Ecumenical Institute at St. John's this past fall. The friends I made there were wonderful and the setting idylic for getting some writing done.

Summer always brings with it a somewhat different pace of life as we settle into ordinary time. Yesterday I preached on the place of the desert in our spiritual journey, focusing on the narratives of Elijah, Paul, and Jesus. Darlene usually has a list a mile long of things she wants to accomplish. I have a hard time disengaging from my normal routine. We get to go to Morning Prayer together and then usually I try and work in the office for a couple of hours. This week we're breaking away for a couple of days to Brown Co., Indiana, to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary. Sometimes, the only way I can literally change the pace is to go away into a different place. I am very much a creature of habit when at home.

I also get to indulge my role as percussionist in the summer by playing in the Municipal Band. Reading music gives me a chance to do something different and reclaim my adolescence--when band was a central part of my identity. I also am looking forward to next spring break when I'll be travelling with the college choir to Austria, Hungary, and Romania as a guest lecturer. Musicians, I have found, learn a certain discipline which can transfer over into other aspects of life--if they'll let it.

This summer is rather odd in that we are beginning to adjust to being "empty-nesters." Evangeline is engaged in a glorified nanny job in St. Charles and comes home on the weekends. We are slowly transitioning her up to Taylorville during the summer so she can start her new teaching job in August. As I zero in on my fiftieth birthday, it seems rather strange to be at this point in life. I remember when I was nineteen I wrote down a list of goals I had for my life. It's rather amazing how many of them I've achieved, but I also recognize how much I have adjusted those dreams as I've learned more about myself. Perhaps the greatest gift has been these three women in my life who continue to challenge me to think about the world in different ways and, hopefully, chip away at my rather limited view.

This fall I'm taking on a Freshman Seminar again--something I've been away from for a few years. I hope my age won't work against me too much. I'm trying to stay "connected" in ways that will keep me somewhat in touch with this generation of college students. The theme of journey and pilgrimage is at the heart of Brett Webb-Mitchell's new book (School of the Pilgrim) which I am looking forward to reading next month. I'm engaged right now in a new biography of Thomas Hardy, a popular study of the history of adolescence called Teenage, and Eugene Peterson's most recent book, The Jesus Way. One of the best parts about summer is the chance to read half-a-dozen or more books. But if I'm going to make any progress, I'd best finish today's blog!