Sunday, January 10, 2010

A period of mourning

Today is the last day.

Tomorrow students who have special jobs -- RA's, mentors, others with pre-class responsibilities -- will arrive on campus. Over the next couple of days the other 3,000 who live on campus will trickle in. And on Thursday classes start, and the sidewalks will be full of students once again.

So this is the last day of vacation, in a way. Of course, the Sunday after New Year's -- the day before I went back to work -- was also the last day of vacation, in a way. And Wednesday, the last day before classes begin, is another last day. There are plenty of chances to reminisce about the peace and quiet that's about the end.

There are plenty of reasons to look forward to normal academic life returning. I genuinely love my students and classes. I'm energized by the topics and discussions; I had a small taste of that teaching adult Christian education at church this morning, when three of my students showed up. And I'm anticipating some creative excitement around a new core course we're designing, to be implemented in the fall of 2011.

A wise person once observed to me that any change in one's life, no matter how thoroughly positive, is an occasion for mourning. There's always something lost in any change. I tend to cling obsessively to the things I lose when holiday periods end -- leisure time, opportunities for working on large or long-range projects, control over my schedule. Come the end of the semester, I'll be mourning the graduating students whom I'll never see in my classes again. For now, it's time to sigh longingly for the vacation time that's past and fret about the steady diet of work and responsibility ahead of me.

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