March 16, 2016On February 3, 2016, I wrote the following paragraphs, intending to post this newsletter that day or the next. It didn’t happen.
The months speed by faster than I can keep up with them. It’s hard to believe that the last newsletter I wrote was in May 2015, but I comfort myself with the assurance that your lives are much too full to have noticed my silence. Just to let my readers know I’m still alive and kicking, however, here’s a brief update of life in South Carolina.
I am now a few weeks into my final semester of teaching. I have one class of Creative Writing (12 students) and one of Novel Writing (5 seniors). Papers have started coming in, so my days are busy. Since winter began, we’ve had snow and ice here in the Carolinas but also days in the upper 60s. As always, I’m straining forward, eager for spring yet knowing that, in spite of a few early-blooming daffodils in our yard, we have more cold days in store.
As for my progress on my next novel, I’m sorry to report that I’m not even creeping along in first gear at present but am idling in neutral, stuck at the ten-chapter mark. I encourage myself, however, with the thought that when a writer or any other artist pauses, he may actually be building quiet momentum for moving forward, perhaps in a different direction or with greater insight or efficiency. Waiting can be a good thing. That’s what I keep telling myself anyway—that, and “After I retire, I’ll have time to write again.”
As I long for spring but am stuck in winter, I’ve been reminded again just this past week of the mingling of joy and sorrow in life. On the same day that we received an invitation to attend a fiftieth anniversary celebration for a dear former teacher of mine, we also heard the sad news of a former student’s sudden death that very morning—a student both my husband and I had the privilege of teaching in elementary and high school. She was smart, musical, personable, multi-talented, generous, and godly. She wasn’t quite 50 years old, a beloved teacher of high school German and drama.
So a favorite teacher is celebrating a happy milestone of life—a wonderful teacher who introduced me to the world of American literature—and a favorite student has stepped from this life into eternity. God has ordered both lives according to His divine and perfect purpose. It’s easy to accept His will when the circumstances are joyful, but so much harder when we grieve.
You have sorrows in your life that I know nothing about, and I have those of my own. They’re not the kinds of things we announce publicly, but every heart has its hidden weights. God has promised joy in the morning, and even though our night of weeping continues, we not only cling to that promise of morning but also believe with all our hearts that it will come. In the meantime, God has much to teach me and I earnestly want to be a good student.
Six weeks later. Something called paper grading—lots of it in continuous waves—interrupted my good intentions of posting a newsletter in February. Now it’s March 16, and I’m determined to close this out.
Spring is now so close I can taste it, and with temperatures in the 70s and 80s this week, we can feel it, too. Our spring break is next week, March 22-28, and after that only five weeks of classes, then exams, then Commencement. Retirement excitement continues to mount.
A quick summary of a few highlights since my newsletter last May: (1) visits to Indiana in July and November of 2015, during which we spent glorious stretches of time with our precious grandchildren, Carolyn Svana, age 6, and Charles Kjell, 2; (2) a September trip to my sister’s house in Virginia, where we had a family rendezvous in order to celebrate our son’s 32nd birthday; (3) a major transition in my mother’s life in December as we moved her to an assisted living facility here in Greenville, SC; (4) God’s provision for our son in miraculous ways, great and small, following the completion of his doctoral degree at Indiana University; (5) a recent honor conferred upon my husband, who was voted into a prestigious organization called the American Bandmasters Association—a lifelong dream of his. I could elaborate at length on all five of these, but instead I’ll simply say that each one represents more evidence of God’s grace outpoured on His needy children. We are awed and humbled by his countless blessings.
End of newsletter. Though it’s not very newsy, but rather bland and general, I send it out with a heart full of gratitude, hope, and good wishes for all of you. As always, thank you for the kind, cheery emails many of you have sent via my website.