How is it that 2012 is last year? Before I jump into a new year, it only seems appropriate to look back and recall some of my favorite moments from 2012. Here they are in no particular order:
1. Retreat Workshop Presenter—Last January I flew to Indiana so that my mom and I could co-lead/speak at her church’s women’s retreat. We were one of the workshop presenters for the weekend. Our topic, Moving Beyond the Rind: Trusting God in the Everyday, was well-received by the women who attended our session. Sharing the podium with my mom was both a lot of fun and a humbling experience for me. Her wisdom and life experience in regards to trusting God on a daily basis are an example to many of what it means to faithfully live the Christian life.
2. Spring Break Stony Brook Style—TWO WEEKS of Spring Break! Actually, it should probably be called “Mid-Winter Break” as it is still very much winter, but I am not complaining! We stayed home for the break and enjoyed exploring more of Long Island and the city. Sharing meals with friends and colleagues was also a highlight.
3. Yard Work—I know, it sounds a little odd to include yard work on a top ten list. Perhaps I should say “Gardening” instead. Our house sits inside a mini-forest of locust and maple trees. We also have our own bamboo garden. Spring 2012 found me (and the occasional student working off demerits) slowly reclaiming and reimagining our yard space. We pulled out shrubs, cut down a few small trees, divided Hostas, created beach-rock borders, and hauled buckets of wood chips. Progress was certainly made, and I can hardly wait to get my hands in the soil come spring.
4. Summer on Long Island—To some, I probably sounded like an over-excited child as I babbled on and on about how wonderful it was to ride my bike to the beach at 4 pm in the afternoon and not die of heat stroke. I loved taking advantage of the proximity to West Meadow Beach and staying for only an hour if I wanted or longer if I pleased. Riding my bike along the walking/jogging path and looking for beach glass, delighted my senses to no end. Eating simple dinners on our deck during the summer months also felt like the height of luxury.
5. Camping in the Adirondacks—I wrote about our camping trip in another post (Guidelines for a Successful (and Delightful) Camping Experience), but this trip really does make into my top ten list. I know, hard to believe! I hope we can go back this summer.
6. Discovering new writers and speakers that I love—Each year the school invites a speaker to campus as part of the Pierson Curtis Lecture. P.C., as he was known, left his mark all over Stony Brook and someone graciously endowed this lecture series in his honor. The speaker for last year’s lecture was Dr. Jeffry Davis from Wheaton College. Every once in a while you hear a speaker who speaks in such a way that you wish you could copy down every single word he or she says. Listening to Dr. Davis was like that for me. His topic, “Aeneas and Humanitas: Learning to be Human from Virgil” (heady, I know) wove together literature, travel, spiritual narrative, and Virgil in a beautiful, thought-provoking way. I re-read my notes from his lecture several times this year just to savor the good, the true, and the beautiful that his talk represented. Another new discovery this year was the writer Carolyn Weber. I read her spiritual memoir, Surprised by Oxford, and was blown away by her beautiful writing and her journey to faith. I copied several passages from her book in my “favorites” notebook. This passage is a response a woman colleague gives to Carolyn about the place of career and aspirations alongside the other parts of life:
All of these “things” mean nothing in and of themselves. They are just objects, just means to an end. What does it matter what committee you serve on? What promotion you get? That book you labor to write and push to publish, someone will end up resting a coffee cup on, without any care to your sacrifice. Your children are only young once. Your marriage provides you a chance to put someone else first daily. Such things refine your soul.
Carolyn also has a blog www.pressingsave.com. I highly recommend her book and her blog.
7. Hosting family and friends—I think whenever you move, friends especially, give you a settling period before they come to visit. 2012 saw friends from St. Louis and Vancouver come to Long Island along with extended family. We enjoyed our time of hosting and showing off our digs, and I look forward to hosting more family and friends in 2013.
8. Buffalo get-away weekend—I alluded to this trip in previous post this fall (Season of Gratitude). Brad and I drove to Buffalo to watch Jacob run in the State cross country meet. This was the weekend after our power was restored post-Hurricane Sandy. You could have sent me anywhere as long as there was power, heat, warm food, and a comfy bed and I would have thought it was a four-star establishment. The stress of surviving a hurricane and the challenges of living post-hurricane quickly dissipated after ordering room service and opening a bottle of wine.
9. Long Island Sweet Corn—Sorry, Michigan, Long Island has you beat on this one. Our family enjoyed many ears of sweet, slightly crunchy corn during the five week growing season this summer. Anne Marie’s Stand is just around the corner, making it super easy to grab some ears for dinner.
10. Returning to the classroom—It has taken some years (and life experience too) for me to admit to myself that I am a teacher at my core. I love sharing good literature with students and witnessing the “aha” moments that occur in the classroom. I consider it a privilege to teach.
Thank you, readers, for journeying with me this past year. May 2013 be a year of new discoveries and encounters with God in your everyday life.