Sunday, November 9, 2014

Week 12: It's Week What?

It's been a fairly uneventful week in the Stewart household, all things considered.  The usual has gone on--grading, students excelling, students being problems, sending in drop forms, reading a ridiculous amount of email, more grading, student appointments, and trying to start writing a new article.

If there's one thing I've learned about why community college professors seem (and I qualify this statement because it's not entirely true) to publish less than others, it's because the resources for scholarship are much harder to obtain.  While Del Mar has access to EBSCO--and therefore the MLA International Bibliography--getting the articles are much more difficult.  We have no access to JSTOR or to Project Muse, which makes things problematic.  I can use the library at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, but I have to go there in person to do so, which is not terribly helpful when I'm trying to work in my office.

But my writing focus over the last week has instead been on National Novel Writing Month.  NaNoWriMo is now on its ninth day, and in those nine days, I've so far written 11,319 words.  That means in the last week, I've effectively written twenty percent of my novel.  Considering that I started working on it over two years ago, that's quite bit for just the last week.  I've also managed to outline the rest of it, so I know exactly where the rest of it is going.  If I sit down and really work at it, I think I could probably have it knocked out by the end of the week.

This may also be in part because DH is going to have to start working on Saturdays for the foreseeable future. Not the Saturday after Thanksgiving, thank goodness, but probably otherwise through the end of the year.  That's both good, because of the overtime, but bad because that's less time I get to spend with him during the week.  But if there is one excellent thing about working at the same place as your husband, it's that you get to see him during the day at times.  We get to have lunch together on Mondays and Wednesdays, which is very nice.  Next semester when I don't have a mid-day class at lunch time, we should be able to eat lunch together every day.

The landlord came this week and replaced our disposal, as it was leaking quite badly, and installed a gutter on the back of the house in hopes that it will stop the water seeping into the garage when it rains.  We'll get to see if that works later this week, I think, as we're expecting another cold front to come through the Coastal Bend on Tuesday.  But the cold front should bring highs of 50s to 60s, so it will finally start to feel, perhaps, like fall.  I don't know that we'll ever get to heavy coat weather, but I'll take hoodie weather.

All Saint's Day was a beautiful service last week at church with two baptisms at the 10:30 service.  In the meantime, our Sunday School class has been continuing our journey through the Book of Common Prayer.  Our priest has been doing a great job leading us through the BCP, and it's amazing how almost all of Episcopal theology can be found inside it.

What may be the most important thing that I've found has been about the difference between sickness and illness, and healing and cure.  When you've faced chronic illness, either yourself or with a family member, it's difficult to deal with the spiritual nature of it.  One thing that's always made me angry has been the idea that we must not have sufficient faith for my mother to be cured of her lupus (or for that matter, any of us with any other illness).  What I've understood in the last few weeks, both in Sunday School and by reading Father Westerhoff's book, is that I'm not wrong.

Whenever the Garth Brooks' song "Unanswered Prayers" came on the radio, Mom always stopped after it to remind us that there are no unanswered prayers--sometimes the answer is just no.  After twenty some years, it's become quite clear to me that our prayers for the cure of my mother has been "No."  I don't know why.  But that has been the answer.  It's not that I doubt God's power to cure my mother, but after twenty years of praying, I'm pretty sure that's His answer.

So I've stopped praying for a cure to my mother's lupus.  Instead, I've started praying for healing.  Father Westerhoff explains that illness is something in the body or mind going wrong.  Sickness is the attitude we have towards it.  A cure is the fix for the illness.  Healing is the cure for sickness.  And if there's one thing that's stuck with me from Father Westerhoff's book, it's this - "Disease is not a 'cross to bear'" (118). Furthermore, he says, "No one suffers from a disease as God's punishment for sin" (117).

It's comforting to hear and read that.  When you learn this, you get to let go of so much.  Healing is instead acceptance of God's will and learning to walk more closely with Him and in his ways, no matter what illness we have.  And that includes when you have a mental illness which can so closely connect with sickness that it's difficult to disentangle them.

So it's been an enlightening week as I've been thinking about that.  Today we talked about living a holy death, and the takeaway was that we die the way we live.  My great-grandfather Elza lived a peaceful life in God's will, and from what my mother has told me, his passing was also peaceful.

I won't say that Sunday school didn't bring up a lot of feelings this morning either.  I may have shed a few tears, and Father Philip was very kind and came and checked on me, both after Sunday school and after service this morning to make sure that I was okay.

I continue to be amazed at how wonderful Corpus Christi is being for us. "Body of Christ" indeed!  Our lives have been enriched by work and by church, and we continue to find ourselves drawn into a community of wonderful people.

It may not be Kentucky, but I think it'll do.

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