Hi, do you remember when I made that meme five months ago?
Happy October, and I am here to confirm that while necessary in the specific garden of my specific life at that specific time, I don’t ever want to see a butterfly like that again. A double course load with two kids in elementary school was nuts. It was wonderfully enriching, and I loved the research, and it was also very difficult to juggle with a young family. But it’s done; I don’t walk until December, but when I do, I will have graduated summa cum laude with my focus in Biblical Studies, which is not bad for a girl who dropped out of high school and failed out of her first college run.
I will miss my studies, and reading widely, and the joy of discovering a new facet of truth that has echoed down the corridor of the ages. As I begin to think about my next season of writing, I already miss the “safety” of peer-review, and journal access, and professors I can bounce all my questions off of. I truly loved my time at Cairn, and while I yield to the Ecclesiastical nature of seasons, I am still learning to embrace the end of them.
I had planned to begin my Masters in Divinity program a few weeks back, but in the plot twist that precisely none of us saw coming, my husband is facing a potential major relocation with work. If it happens, it will have been covered in more prayer than anything in recent memory, and the move will happen with my full blessing and support. Because the process is lengthy and uncertain, however, we made the decision to not begin my new job and MDiv with the possibility of needing to uproot and end it a few months in. This was a huge and painful decision to make. It was the right one, and the one that involved the most faith; we are at peace with it.
In light of that, I’m beginning to learn how to enjoy the freedom of wide-open days for the first time in seven years. It feels a little silly to need to learn to enjoy ‘time off’ but it’s hard for me to not have the structure of an externally imposed schedule, or a deadline to work under, or a goal to attack. More truthfully, I’m about two burnouts past benefitting from a sabbatical, so that’s what I’m going to assign this time between ‘what was’ and ‘what is to come.’ A dear friend would be thrilled if I put the proper name to it though; liminal. It’s liminal space. It’s the worst, it’s wonderful, I’m grateful for it, I hate it.
Here is what I love about it:
- I have breathing room and margin again.
- I am present with my family again.
- I get to see my friends and be a friend again.
- I bake muffins for the kids for when they get home from school.
- The house is decorated for fall before New Year’s Eve.
- We have a whole kids drop off to school-sports-activities-church schedule that doesn’t involve higher mathematics to plan.
- Lots of time for reading and gardening.
- It won’t last forever; this is also what I tell myself when my Expositor’s Greek Testament stack looks longingly at me from the bookshelf. I see you, Greek, I see you. Someday, probably, maybe, hopefully.
Here is what I don’t love about liminal space:
- It makes me cry a lot.
- It’s the worst.
- The more those previous two statements are true, the more I know it’s necessary.
It’s hard not to feel like I’m wasting my days when I’m not ‘producing’ anything. I can’t point to papers written, job expectations met, hungry people fed, worlds conquered, or anything else to justify what I do with my days now. I know some of this is long-rancid residual pressure from the bad ‘ol days that needs to go. It is precisely this kind of dross that liminal time brings to the surface. Some of it is my own fuzzy perspective that will clear up only within the enforced stillness that only liminal space can provide. I am grateful for it, and I hate it. Pray for my spiritual director, folks.
Last September, I set out to cover three areas in this writing space; posts covering a sliver of doctrine, posts containing my ‘commentary from the pews,’ and sci-fi posts as we ‘watch-along’ through the namesake behind the blog title, Doctor Who.
I got the newsletters out, but little else, partly because when I wanted to start my doctrine series on the Donatists and Pelagians, I got Covid instead, which took me out until March, and then as I started to get my groove back I took a double course load because I have not yet learned how to do a thing without driving myself into a wall at 110 mph. Has anyone? Because that’s the other part.
I have to write, not because I “have” to, but because I love to. It’s how I’ve always made sense of the world. I know the comfort I’ve received from good writers all my life, and I desire to write the truth from my corner of the earth in hopes that it will help someone else in theirs. But somewhere along the way, my have-to in the Jeremiac sense turns into a “have-to” in the American sense. It’s something I love, that I then setup an ambitious plan for, that becomes so overwhelming in my mind that I then avoid it or burn it down. In the words of our beloved St. Paul, why am I the way that I am, and what is my major malfunction (Romans 7:21-24). I know I’m not alone in this, because my Hope*Writer groups are filled with women decades ahead of me bewailing the exact same process, but in the words of another saint (probably); “woof.”
All that to say, my goal in this space remains the same; to offer a perspective that leads to the relieved sigh that C.S. Lewis once described as “What? You too? I thought I was the only one!” I also really, really love Historical Theology as an area of research, and would love to offer what insights I can as they pertain to the unique challenges American evangelicalish-ism faces today. I also like sci-fi and would love to nerd out with you. And I’m okay admitting that I don’t know what that will look like this next season. Here’s what I do know; I’ll keep showing up, and I’ll always save you a seat in the pew.
What I’ve Been Reading:
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers & Return of the King by JRR Tolkien
Tolkien was brilliant in a way that I believe is unrivaled. I love his world building; I love his centuries-long story arcs. Like every good storyteller, he sneaks truth in through the side-wings of fiction, although perhaps the fiction that involved the most willful suspension of disbelief for me was Eowyn’s setting aside her affection for Aragorn and projecting it onto Faramir in a literal moment. Had Tolkien ever known a besotted woman in real life? How does one go from smitten with one to in love with the other in a moment? Get out of here, also I can’t wait to read them again next year.
What I’ve Been Watching:
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
So I’m five episodes in and relying on Tea With Tolkien’s podcasts to fill in the gaps. I have not read the Silmarillion all the way through, but I heard TROP departs from Tolkien canon with somewhat regularity anyway, so maybe my ignorance there will help. I’m enjoying it so far, with the hope they don’t go completely off the rails.
What I’ve Been Eating:
This is new to no one but me, but my bff and I discovered that you could put store-bought roast beef on little baguette slices with Captain Toady’s horseradish sauce and some bougie caramelized onions and it’s a whole lil’ party for your palate. Some people like to call this “a roast beef sandwich.” Who knew. For everyone who already did know you can and should make little open face sammies out of roast beef, I’m new here to planet Earth. Add caraway seeds if you really want to get wild.
It’s not fall if I’m not putting pumpkin in inappropriate foods, therefore I present to you Pumpkin Chili. My friends judge me and I don’t care and eventually I just know they’ll succumb to the gourdy glory. I replace the turkey with ground beef here because a girl needs to get her iron somewhere, and I always use Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning packets (just half unless you want to burn your entire face off) in lieu of anything calling for chili powder pcuz it’s the best.
I do hope this Autumn finds you kindly, reader. I hope your mornings have that dried leaf smell, and I hope your evenings are filled with fire pits, and your days offer you the kind of blue skies that only October can bring. I hope you enjoy your Pumpkin Spice Lattes without even a hint of irony, and I hope you put too much cinnamon in everything, and that you burn every fall candle and don a sweater even if it’s 76 degrees out. I hope you get to watch It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown at least twice, and I hope, truly, that this finds you well.
My prayer times are leisurely now, and I would love to intercede for you; drop me a line anytime.
Until next time,