"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


a wondrous beauty i see

I'm so tired. It's the last few weeks of the semester, and while I love the flowers and the warm weather and the lengthening afternoons, April wears me out. There are exams to grade (And grade. And grade. And grade.), students panicking over problems they should have addressed in February, programs for which to sign up and next year's registration to get done, summer to plan, plane tickets to buy, money to worry about, the Advisor in the annual panic/must get more done mode that leads to me being at work early on Saturday morning, and end-of-year dinner and parties to attend, and friends who are leaving the program to hang out with, and friends who could care less about political science with birthdays, and the GA's going stir-crazy because they're sick of being cooped up in school and are ready for summer, and parents coming into town which is great except the house needs cleaning, oh, and the gang wants to get together for dinner and a baseball game is that okay? It's April.

It's April, but it is also Holy Week, and somewhere in the midst of this insanity, there is supposed to be something that centers us. At my church, we have daily services at noon. We sing a hymn (from the Baptist canon; today it was "The Old Rugged Cross") and say a prayer and someone preaches and there is lunch if you have time and then we sprint back to work. I don't make it there every day, but I try to come to as many of the noon services as possible. It's April, and I need centering.

Today's prayer stopped me dead in my tracks. The minister spoke of the middle of the week, this time between two Sundays, between the palms of celebration and the pain of the cross and the joy-mixed-with-fear of the empty tomb. An in-between time, when we know what has happened and what is to become and the temptation is to jump forwards or backwards to those times, and, in the process, miss what is happening before our very eyes.

The sermon was about the anointing at Bethany, the woman who opened a jar of expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus' head. The preacher, a student at a local seminary, pointed out that "broke open" isn't really a good translation for what she did. "Shattered," "broke it all to pieces," "crushed" - any of these would be more accurate. She destroyed the shell that holds in everything that is expected and proper in order to do something very unladylike - something that she somehow understood had to be done for Jesus.

I don't know if I will ever learn how to balance April. Given the career I have chosen, it's likely that every April for the next thirty-five years will be just as hectic. But I wonder if there's something to pouring out everything you have, "without counting the cost." I wonder if there's reason to believe that there's something to be learned from living in the here and now, even if the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the thought of vacation. I wonder what has to be broken in order to do what must be done...


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