Well, for starters, the work is so much easier this year. I've got a significantly larger bit of control over the classroom, coupled with a better group of kids. I know a bit more about what I need to teach and how to get it done. I know how to keep the kids moving and I'm really enjoying it.
Also, the students are really enjoying it. Many of my students are coming to class with focus and even a bit of zeal. I've gotten so comfortable with what I'm doing that I'm able to entertain the kids a bit, laying on pretty thickly a split-personality of militaristic discipline and haphazard, sarcastic rambling.
Additionally, I'm no longer teaching just Pre-Algebra (which is the advanced curriculum for 7th grade), but I'm additionally teaching a standard Math 2 course, and an Intensive (read: remedial) Math course. This means that instead of planning for one class, I plan for three. I don't prefer this, but it's really not that overwhelming and, professionally, I'm sure it's good for me to be stretched. (Additionally, I've got the added challenge of a Puerto Rican girl who speaks very little English.)
I've taken on some extra duties. I'm now the person responsible for organizing and maintinaing data on my team and I represent us at a shared decision making committee called "Senate." Further, I've been appointed by the principal to lead an "Action Team" that deals with schoolwide concerns over the way data is collected, shared, and utilized at our school.
It's been fun. Also, my classroom looks pretty awesome this year. I get lots of compliments. (I've even worked in some Wendell Berry and Vern Poythress posters - shhh! Don't tell.)
Cathleen and I have visited all the churches that we are currently considering joining and we are now making second round visits. We've eliminated at least one choice from our list of six. So in about six weeks we will be making a choice about which church we'd like to start visiting on a regular basis. If it goes well, we could have a church home by Thanksgiving, or at the very latest, Christmas - which would be nice.
Ideally, I think I would really enjoy it if we ended up at a high-church ACNA Cathedral with a large population with a diverse demographic make-up. Alas - no such church seems to exist in Jacksonville. So no matter where we end up, there will always be something for me to whine about. Oh well.
Settling though I will be - actually, no matter what, both Cathleen and I will be settling for something - I really am looking forward to normalizing my religious life. Frankly, and to the point, I feel like over the past couple years, I've become increasingly malnourished, spiritually speaking. It's not a good thing either. I've come to hate pietism so much, that I have additionally grown to resent "piety" as well. I feel as though much of the confidence and (for lack of a better word) obsession I've had with Christianity and such has waned for want of not being so publically abrasive. This is in part due to a personal lack of courage on my part, combined with a cautious bit of indifference stirred by my own simple-mindedness mixed with a saturation of learning.
But what I really mean to say is that, I truly do miss those days, those nine months or so I spent at an Anglo-Catholic APA Cathedral, wherein such time I grew more as a believer than I think I ever have. Circumstances beyond my control ripped me from that situation, but I still remember the height of my faith in those days: I remember how, for the first time in my life, I would be thinking all Saturday evening, while I'm closing up a Starbucks, mopping floors at midnight, thinking with actual joy in my heart about the goodness to come when I wake in the morning. I still remember (I remember this whenever I take a bike ride) the Sunday morning bike rides to church, listening to Aaron Weiss guide me with his sad, sad songs, all the way to the House of the Lord. Much more, I remember the pleasantry of hearing week after week that my sins were forgiven and I, dog that I am, have been made welcome to sup with the Lord. I remember how it would nearly bring me to tears to sing hymns as the Holy Gospel would interrupt our song to tell us of our Lord Christ, only to be followed by the second half of our song. And I certainly - most certainly - remember the soaring of my baptized heart as we would, on high occassions, not merely confess, but sing the Nicene Creed, genuflecting at the appropriate parts. Never before in my life did everything I had been studying come together so harmoniously, suddenly making sense of all the things that previously had been mere abstractions to me. There was no longer any division in my heart between liturgy and life, and the worship of the Lord so stirred my passions that I would sing the various anthems of Christian worship all week long, unashamed to chant "It is very meet, right and our bounden duty, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto thee. O Lord, Holy Father..." while making lattes and washing dishes.
But Judaizers stripped me of that one glimmer of the Holy Spirit in my twenty-something years, and I ended up instead spending the next two years under the scrutiny of those less interested in the visio beata than myself. (This is too harsh, but bear with me dear reader, as I am only ranting.)
The bottom line is, I was in heaven for a time, and it's been my mission ever since to get back there. But until such a time, if I truly make the Lord my food and drink, then I truly must starve without him. My hope is that, in our quest for a church, I can find once again that sustenance.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
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