"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

20 November 2010

Finishing Well

The semester is winding to its inevitable end. Thanksgiving break next week, two more weeks of classes, then finals. It doesn't seem possible, and there's certainly not time to get all done that needs to be done -- or so it seems.

Of course, it always does get done. That's the glory of academia. Kill yourself for 16 weeks, then you get to take a break and start it over: but it's not just the same old, same old; it's new classes, different mixes of students, another chance to do it better.

One does always wish to finish well. But it's harder to keep that focus when the new start is just around the corner. When exhaustion sets in, when one begins to wonder if teaching were a bad career choice, when committee and administrative work wears down time and patience and energy . . . I could start planning my Shakespeare class, or read the books for my new 411, or rework the 211 schedule . . . so much more satisfying than walking through the messiness of the end of a semester, the discouraged mind insists. The new to come draws the interest, sparks new energy.

But that's not the call. Looking ahead sufficiently to make plans for the future is right and good, but trying to live there, to make it come faster, is foolishness. Responsibility lies here, doing the best one can in the present to love God and neighbor -- to give all one has to the task at hand for His glory. Making that commitment and trusting Him to make one's work count (it's never we who accomplish anything eternal anyway; why do we get so caught up in how we feel?): that is the call, and that is the key to finishing well.

Lord, remind me to trust You where I am, to live for You where I am, now, today, not looking to some future day while letting this one limp to an inglorious close -- a future day which in any case will only be the same as this one when it arrives, one which itself will require trusting and serving You in the moment. Let me live it now so I will know the better how to live it then.

13 November 2010

Christendom Review

The latest issue of The Christendom Review is online.

Millie Jones has her first publication: two of the lovely poems she submitted as part of her senior thesis, which won our first thesis award, last spring.

My review of John Gardner's On Moral Fiction is also in this issue.

Many other poems, some fiction, beautiful visual arts: please check it out!