In her novel, In this House of Brede, Rumer Godden has one of her characters, a Benedictine nun, no less, describe love as a crucible. Re-reading the book this week, I’ve gone back and read that bit of dialogue several times; I’d not particularly noticed it the several other times I’ve read this beautiful book.
I feel rather as if I’m in the flame myself right now. My return to the school where I taught last year is delayed. Why? I call it “Parking-Lot Politics” – a few parents’ malicious behavior caused other parents to be wrongfully dissuaded from keeping their children at the school; the headmaster has had to scramble to pare the budget in every way; and unless our Lord sovereignly provides a miracle before opening day, there are no resources for me to return in the position which I was to occupy this year.
I love this school. I believe in its philosophy; for the past year I’ve seen it produce significant growth in the academic achievements and in the characters of an impressive number of our students. I admire our headmaster as a man of vision and integrity. I have utmost respect for my colleagues, who are some of the most dedicated men and women I’ve ever had the privilege of working with. I love our students; it has been a wonderful privilege and an unparalleled joy to teach them last year. I’m humbled to have been privy to some amazing growth, healing, and maturation in some of “my kids'” lives.
So when this crisis occurred and Dave kindly took me aside to warn me that my position was in jeopardy, I entered a crucible — of pain, self-doubt, grief… bitter resentment against the mean-spirited and the foolish people who had put not only my career but the future of this wonderful school in peril. During the summer, I’ve railed against the possibility of not being able to return to the school right now, of having to find something else to do for an income for a period of time. I have held out — foolishly, probably — for the possibility of a rush of enrollment or a generous financial gift that would secure my return to the school before the first day of classes; it’s hard to accept that God would have opened the way for me to be part of this amazing institution last year, only to yank me away now. I am struggling with not being able to hear His direction which way I should turn next.
Dave said I should consider this period until I can be brought back a sabbatical; I’m calling it a “hiatus;” it feels like forced exile.
So here I am, trying to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, trying to make sense of the insensible and to find illumination in the desolate. I was so certain I’d found my vocation, my place in the world, that right now I feel suspended over the metaphorical black hole. What am I supposed to be doing with my life, if not teaching? because I certainly have no tolerance for the administrative politics and deteriorating academic and behavioral standards that mark our public schools. I want my life to count for something, I want to make a difference — but how? where?
The one thing I am certain of, and I believe this because I have experienced it before, is that this is going to prove itself for my greater good and God’s greater glory.
I just wish He’d make a few of the preliminary details a bit clearer to me right now.