The start of an academic year is always full of anticipation. Students exploring college for the first time. Returning students coming with a renewed energy about their futures. Colleagues who are in the midst of great work. Even the prep of new courses can be engaging and give you the momentum to even play around with the old standard course that worked so well.
It doesn’t matter how last semester went. It’s all fresh.
I want it all to turn out well but recognize how little is actually in my control. I think I’m managing when in reality I’m simply adjusting to circumstances.
I’m writing this from the Family Waiting Room at Rose Medical Center in Denver. Within the next few hours, our granddaughter will be introduced to the world. Our daughter’s due date was actually on Labor Day, but labor didn’t start until yesterday. We had originally made our plans around the official due date — we’d miss the first days of class, spend the week in Denver and then come back for the second week. But the baby had her own plans. So we canceled the tickets for August 31 and started adjusting. Now it looked like we’d be around for Thursday and Friday classes but miss Monday and Tuesday. Even then it wasn’t clear on how all my lesson scheduling would shake out. Everyone I talked to heard some variation of “we’ll do that next week unless I go to Denver”.
We got the call yesterday morning that labor had begun. So I rebooked the tickets, made the hotel reservations, handed off the dog, raced to Detroit and we were in Denver about 11 hours after the call came. We all wound up going straight to the hospital to wait on the baby. Progress is being made and she’ll be here in the next few hours. But for now, all I can do is wait on processes to run their course almost exactly as they have for eons.
Sitting here on just a few hours of sleep I realize that this process of waiting for grandparenthood is not much different from all the rest of my planning. At the end of the day, I really can’t make any of this happen. Life will unfold on its own pace. But I am coming to see this waiting for life as an expression of God’s grace. It’s a reminder that his presence is with us in the waiting. He’s there in the unknowing.
I’m not thinking that this is a matter of “waiting for God’s timing”. I’m not sure God has his own equivalent of the paper output coming from the machine tracking the baby’s heart rate. I think that what’s important is that we realize that God’s Spirit is active in our midst in spite of the timeline.
Not just with babies but with all of life. I am in the last stages of wrapping up the book I’ve worked on for two years. It’s the completion of something I started on over nine years ago about an idea that I’ve been playing with for fifteen years. I’m excited about the completion but surprised to be thinking about the next project. Because there’s Grace in this moment of waiting and pondering.
So also with my classes this semester. I really don’t know how they’re going to turn out. I want objectives to be met, but that’s not really entirely up to me. We’ll get where we get. And that’s okay, because Grace is present in the unfolding. I don’t know the impact the classes will have on my students and their own journeys. But that’s fine because Grace is there in the unfolding.
Now I just need to figure out how to get this life lesson ingrained into my being so that my control issues give way to Grace. I pray that getting more sleep and being in a normal routine won’t lull me back into thinking that my planning makes things happen.