There have been very few years of my life that haven’t involved a significant shift in schedule immediately following Labor Day. In all honesty, there have been only two years of my life since my own start of Kindergarten where I didn’t notice the significant shift in cadence of life this time of year. One was lost in the blur of my first year post MSW where I was transitioning from student to both practitioner and administrator. By the next year, I had learned the ropes enough to take on student interns, and two years later I would find my way back to the class-room as adjunct faculty…thus, bringing my cadence back to the school year pattern. The only other year without an academic cadence was the birth of my daughter…I took that Fall semester off after her August arrival while I was fully immersed in mothering. That was learning of another form and cadence altogether.
So, this year I indulged the last days of summer wistfully. My semester actually began a couple weeks ago, but I remained in semi-denial until my last long-weekend of summer vacation faded off into the tropical horizon. This week, it was back to alarm clocks, carpools, parents nights, and a full load of academic meetings and responsibilities. Within the crucible of the week, I have experienced some of my worst and my finest moments of parenting. I have arrived in my office in the morning, shut the door and relished a moment of silence where I could think with my own brain and not repeat, “is your homework done yet???” for the millionth time. Yet, by the end of my own work week, I practically fled my own campus today in wild anticipation of a quiet night of pizza, wine, and a reprieve from meetings, appointments, planning, and teaching. This is a crazy, busy whirlwind time while we await…and struggle with…the return of a cadence of life that we shed along with our sweaters as we forged from spring headlong into summer.
I am not blogging about this because I propose some grand solution to slow down the pace. I am writing because tonight I was realizing the beauty in this time of motion, and chaos, and exhausting new beginnings. I have found an inner calmness emerging within the chaos. I love feeling the energy of incoming college cohorts, seeing Facebook feeds full of shining, small faces filled with the promise of learning, and yes…even daily doses of the angsty, annoyed eye rolling of the adolescents (like my own child) who are caught in the crazy transition between innocence and maturity. This week I have been threatened with being flipped the bird whenever I produce a camera, and begged to take pictures of crazy moments like raccoons in trash cans in the middle of the city. I have been summoned into a messy room with a scream, then quietly asked, “can I have a hug?” It is a crazy whirlwind of time, energy, emotion, and relationship. It is crazy beautiful, too.
The week has been non-stop. But, tonight is calm. The moon is bright and reflects against my iPad as I write under her luminous glow. The stars are out, and the crickets chirp. The air is still warm, but the breeze has a hint of coolness, and I am reminded that the winds have shifted. In a few weeks, I will be waking just before my alarm instead of waking in a startled panic at the unfamiliar noise. I will be remembering intuitively what days I should see my daughter wearing PE clothes when she heads out the door, or when to pack a snack so my stomach doesn’t rumble when I teach into the evening. Routine will slip in, unaware, and it will feel like I let out a sigh as I move into the cadence of daily life.
Routine will sustain us until the urge to be free of it is so great that we rejoice again at our release. And so it goes, the beautiful and elegant cadence of a life lived fully.
Small points of light, within both the chaos and the cadence of life.
“A fish cannot drown in water,
A bird does not fall in air.
In the fire of creation,
God doesn’t vanish:
The fire brightens.
Each creature God made
must live in its own true nature;
How could I resist my nature,
That lives for oneness with God?”
― Mechthild of Magdeburg, Meditations from Mechthild of Magdeburg