In-Between

Classroom

Apologies for my long silence.

It’s been a summer of upheaval and dislocation – none of it bad, all of it stressful. Since I last posted anything here, June 14, I have changed both location and vocation: from Duncan, British Columbia to Calgary, Alberta; from pastoral ministry to academic work. I traded the Pacific Ocean for the Rockies, the pulpit for the lectern.

I spent the summer in-between: not a pastor anymore, not a professor yet; not from Duncan for long, not in Calgary for a while.

Then last week we moved, and I started work. I write this the morning after my first class – a three-hour marathon that I have to repeat 14 more times. I drove home last night both exhausted and grateful. Three hours is a long time to try to hold anyone’s attention. The students were engaging, curious, insightful, and stayed admirably awake. But me? I was reeling.

I kept having to remind myself not to preach. Me instinct for that roots deep. I speak a text, and my mind crowds with illustration, application, exhortation – all my pastoral impulses run amok. This isn’t entirely a bad thing in a classroom – after all, students need to be doers of the word, just like the rest of us – but I could see the look of bewilderment on several faces. Should I be writing this down? Will this be on the final exam? Is this related to your last point?

It’s going to take me a while to get the rhythm for this. Right now, I’m in-between.

Around us, a household slowly emerges from a maze of boxes, thanks mostly to Cheryl’s tireless efforts. The space, inch by inch, gets colonized with our furniture, our pictures, our presence. (My office at work, on the other hand, looks like one of those rooms from a bombed out library in WWII. Alas, my efforts at conquering it are less heroic).

Part way through last night’s class, I asked each person to introduce themself, to tell where they were born, and to say what place they now called home. I was last to go.

“My name is Mark,” I said. “And I was born in Calgary.” Then I flinched answering the last question. “And what place do I call home?

I wanted to say Duncan.

With a shock of sadness, I knew it’s not so. Then with a shock of joy, I realized what is so: I’m already here. I’m no longer in-between.

I’m home.

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