Hello again, blog world. Summer is officially over, classes have started, we’ve moved to another city/state, and my need for writing/reflecting time is back! I’ll be writing more regular entries on this site again and adding more content as time allows; for now there is some updated info on the author page and a new page with a link to some photos.
Last weekend I stayed at my parent’s house one night in between various other events going on with friends and family. I went jogging the next morning in the neighborhood that I grew up in and was struck by how strange it felt to trace the same route I had run since I was in middle school (we called it junior high back then). I knew each curve on the road so well, where the slight incline would begin after the stop sign, which few blocks to add on by the Mormon church to extend the distance another half a mile – it was so familiar. And part of me felt overwhelmed by the sameness, the repetition, the coming back to the same route – it’s been over fifteen years of running that route! Now, as I retrace those cement sidewalks, I am even slower then I once was and my calves burn sooner then they did as a teenager. I started to wonder if I was making the opposite of progress; if I was stuck running the same route, unable to keep up the time I once could, and falling behind.
Lately I feel a little like that about my life as a whole. I am not sure if it’s due to getting closer to being thirty years old, gaining sharper vision on just how much work I still have to complete to earn this PhD, or if it’s the inevitable reframing that happens from various transitions in life. It’s not a negative feeling necessarily, but the thought has crossed my mind that I am re-running the same routes in my life, working on the same issues I always have, feeling slower in some ways instead of like I’ve conquered or improved or overcame those cracks in the sidewalk. Then I realized that this feeling betrays my faulty assumptions that everything in life is supposed to go faster, become easier, be different and new, or be ‘done’ in some way. I know many greeting cards and fridge magnets say that life is supposed to be a journey not a destination – but at least for me, I tacitly expect to be growing, moving, changing, improving, and arriving – somewhere! And then it hit me – I am growing. My time huffing through the neighborhood back to the driveway might take longer, my Asics might rub blisters on my feet faster, but I am different – so different – then I was when I ran that same route fifteen, ten, even two years ago. As C.S. Lewis points out, even though each person often re-encounters the same issues, questions, and matters of faith throughout her life, she comes to them in a different way. Instead of marching up a staircase toward our victorious progress in Christ, Lewis suggests that we continually spiral upward, moving and growing and changing, but maybe coming round to the same questions or inclines that we always have, maybe not ascending quite as quickly as a direct stairway might. My husband says that too – between Clive and Peter, two wise men I admire, I’ve decided it must be true.
So I’ve decided to declare – world, I am back. Back in a city that I love, but missing a town that grew on my heart. Back in academia, where I am still encouraged even as it overwhelms me. Back asking questions about meaning and priorities and relationships and my possible role to play in the church and in the world. Back with some of my favorite people in the world, missing some of my other favorites. Back doing things that I love and still struggling to keep balance. I am back, but I am not the same; neither am I done yet. I am back slapping that same pavement as hard as I can, bringing the old and the new me along the spiral journey.