Friday, September 19, 2008


There is a wonderful sweetness about the first crisping days of fall. Waking up to feel that cool edge in the air feels like waking up for the first time in years, free from the sleepy, dragging haze of humidity that pervades the summer. Everything seems clearer, sharper. The sky seems bluer. I love fall with all my soul. It makes me feel peaceful even when I'm trudging across campus with my five pound Biology textbook stuffed into my backpack. I'm not sure yet that I trust this sudden change in the air - I feel certain that it is a teasing trick of mother nature, something she will take back soon. Return us to summer to wait a few more long, aching weeks. Oh, but what sheer pleasure it is to feel. I am already anticipating the leaves dressing themselves up in their fall best... such vibrant death. Perhaps that is another thing I like about fall; the beauty is wistful and slightly mournful, yet it is such a rich season. I like living in that paradox.

I realized today that I know I am headlong back into school when the essentials of my life seem to be contained within my backpack and it starts to feel like another limb. My friend down the hall commented the other night that whenever she comes into my room I have a Word document open. "That is because Word documents are my life right now," I said to her.

It's okay. If I really hated it, I wouldn't be here.

Word documents are not truly the end all be all of my existence. There is much more to be said. I will say that I love professors. I love being around them, they're all so smart and interesting, and (here at this little school of mine,) they are always around. I will also say that there are moments, here and there, when I get to catch a breath. Mostly it feels like I don't have a moment to spare, but then there will be a small, blessed space of free time. They seem even sweeter because they are so rare, and because I work so hard for them.

Now, back to my Word document.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Saw God On A Mountain

I think I left a little bit of my heart there, up in those mountains. This past Saturday, on the whim of a new friend, we took off for the Blue Ridge mountains. I love North Carolina so much; I love that at almost any time you can pick up and head over to the mountains or the ocean. At any rate, she and I got delightfully lost along the way, and ended up winding our way through the mountains. We ended up at last on the top of Grandfather Mountain, sweaty and tired but triumphant.
As I stood on that peak I was exhausted and much more afraid of heights than I formerly realized. Yet, through the fear pounding in my chest there was a sense of absolute awe. Funny, isn't it, how often those two go together? It makes me think of God; fear and awe has been mankind's reaction to God for time immemorial. It made my heart hurt to look at those views, they were just that beautiful. It is good to have something like that strike you to the soul once and a while, and I was struck. It was so high, so beyond all that I had been struggling with, and the air was so clean. And what better a place to find God than on a mountain?

Now I am back down on the Piedmont, back on the flat land, back among the muddle and the mundane. I feel as if I am trying much harder to balance down here than I was up on that mountain peak. I am learning, bit by bit. Some hard choices were made, and clouds blew over. However, there still never seems to be enough hours in the day. I miss that mountain more that I thought I could, yet I know I cannot stay there. There is so much down here: good, bad, and in between. But this is where things happen, down here things move and breathe. This is where life happens. As painful as it can be to be in the middle of so much living and breathing and laughing and crying and learning... Well, I know God is down here too, somewhere.

I saw God on a mountain
Tearing at the sky,
I saw God on a mountain
With tears in his eyes.
He said Son, I used to know
Where I put things,
I used to know.
I could have shown all the beauty in the world,
But I need you to show me.
-Ben Sollee

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rainstorms Revisited

I thought that I was finished with that last topic: rainstorms. I had covered it, learned from it, moved on. Now I find myself revisiting those storms, perhaps even more painfully this time.

The view from my window is clouded. The winding brick walkways are dark, shiny and wet. The trees hover mournfully under the damp sky. I want to go to bed, I want to go home, I want to feel back in control. The past few days I have been careening this way and that, making mistakes, falling behind, breaking down. The downpour has seeped its way into my life, the floodgates crashing open leaving me floundering under the pressure. There is so much to do, so many things to remember. And that's just classes. The there are the people; people everywhere, always doing something, wanting something, telling you something. It is hard to separate yourself from all those people. It's even harder to let go of the "shoulds." My mother, my reliable source of practical wisdom, pointed out that I have too many "shoulds." I know she is right. Yet, being me, I turn that into another should.

I have the vague idea that I am in the middle of one giant, painful learning curve. I also have the vague idea that this is good for me. I just want to feel less crazy. That's all.

I have no neat conclusions today. No good note to wrap up with. Today, however, I received a long hug from a complete stranger. It actually made me feel a little better. I think we should have more hugs.