Ready or Not

It’s Christmas Eve, and no doubt stores and malls are filled with last-minute shoppers seeking last-minute presents.  In just a few hours, I’ll be heading out to the first of three church services I’ll be attending today and tomorrow.  It’s the one with the children and the pageant, with little ones serving as sheep and slightly larger ones serving as shepherds and angels – and it’s the one I’d thought about not attending this year, but then, by some mysterious non-coincidence, I got scheduled to read one of the lessons.  Then, a few hours later, Christmas itself will come as Christmas does, ready or not.

As I was leaving school on Friday, the holiday decorations were coming down because, after all, it “won’t be Christmas anymore” (from a commercial and institutional perspective) when students and teachers return in January.  Ready or not, everyone will plunge into a week of last-minute review and “too much to cover,” followed by a week of final exams, a not-so-restful long weekend, and a fast start to second-semester classes in mid-January.  Ms. X and Mr. Y sent home review packets, of course, and they sincerely believe their students will do them over Break, just as they sincerely believe they, themselves, will grade all those papers and plan all those lessons over the next week and a half.  Fortunately for Ms. X and Mr. Y, there are state-created final exams for their courses, so they won’t have to worry about writing those!

Ready or not, each day brings new opportunities to connect or to isolate, to deepen or to ignore, to be present in the moment or to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for some defined or undefined future.  I’ve been enjoying pictures shared by old friends, physical and virtual greeting cards, finding and selecting gifts, cleaning and straightening the house, being present with The Dog and The Cat at times when I’m usually present with students.  And there certainly have been some times when I got caught in the hustle and bustle … and some times when I got caught in the traffic created by that hustle and bustle.  My planned visit to the Local Coffee Shop yesterday, for a few hours of Tres Columnae Project writing (you’ll find some stories from Lectio XLIII and the first two from XLIV published today), turned into a visit to the Local Bookstore when endless lines of traffic made it clear that the coffee shop wasn’t actually reachable.  But unlike many years, I found I could be present in the moment even when that moment was full of hustle and bustle.  That’s a real change, and I’m grateful for it.

When you build and sustain joyful learning communities, the very process of building, sustaining, and participating changes your perspective on a lot of things.  The pressures of seeking perfection – the ones that are so common when you let the factory-mindset take over – don’t vanish entirely, at least not right away.  But they definitely decrease, and you start to remember that other “perfect” thing, the one that broke or got discarded.  You open your eyes to small triumphs, to details of the moment that you might have missed completely, and you open your heart and your mind to  people close to you and to those you “just happen” to meet.  I’m glad for the conversation with the server at lunch the other day, grateful I was able to bring a kind word to the worried man in the parking lot, glad for a long phone conversation and the doors it seems to be opening.  Ready or not, opportunities like those come along all the time – and ready or not, I wish everyone a joyful Christmas Eve.

I wonder what other exciting adventures await us in the next few days!

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Published in: on December 24, 2013 at 3:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

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