Yesterday as I was walking across the dell, groundskeepers were busy beautifying the campus for commencement activities and lumberjacks were pruning the trees. The air was literally abuzz with the sounds of the season including chain saws and leaf blowers. A student laughed and remarked: “So this is how we do reading day and quiet hours at LC!”
The student was correct. As I left the outdoors and entered Drysdale the building was eerily quiet even though there were students filling beanbag chairs, study carrels, and quiet coves around every corner. The loud din of the dell had been replaced by the somber silence of study. Somehow our community manages to hold seeming opposites together.
This week finds students, staff, and faculty alike in a frenzy of activities as we attempt to wrap up loose ends before the semester completely slips away. And yet most of us are also trying to squeeze in times of quiet and reflection, whether preparing for a final, grading an exam, or spending precious times with friends and colleagues before inevitable departures.
Our lives as individuals and as a campus are most often “both/and.” This time of year we are both anxious for the stress to subside and grateful for the opportunities presented to us. We are both eager for the summer adventures we hope will unfold and a bit unsure and even nervous for the unknown that awaits us. We are both proud of personal and professional accomplishments we’ve achieved and disappointed that we didn’t meet all our goals or accomplish every task on our to-do lists.
The both/and realities of our lives offer a creative and healthy tension when we are able to accept and embrace the dualities of our days. I can accept that interruptions to my day can be both frustrating and offer an opportunity to be flexible and accepting. I can feel both disgruntled and appreciative when my spouse does a chore, just not the way I’d most prefer. I can continue to both grieve deeply the loss of a loved one and celebrate the fact that they were in my life to begin with. I can both lament the political strife that plagues our country and resolve to do my part to improve my own little corner of the world.
Living with creative tension is part and parcel of our spiritual journey. Rather than imagining ourselves in a rigid lock-step procession through life, we can see ourselves as partners with the Spirit in a Divine Dance that is both challenging and exhilarating as we whirl from one step to the next. May the music of chainsaws and leaf-blowers be punctuated by quiet pauses for rest as the semester winds down, the summer begins, and the dance continues.