Last week I chaperoned a ninth-grade retreat at Doe River Gorge. As the last post indicated, this wasn’t the first time I’ve spent a couple of days zip-lining, hiking, and rappelling with high school students. Many of the activities were familiar, and it had been a couple of years since my last visit, but my initial intentions were to get to know a completely new group of students and fellow faculty. Still, the familiarity (and a reawakened love of the woods initially instilled by my grandma) fueled my anticipation for activities that my at once old and new boss had lined up for us to do. One was the famous (and aforementioned in the previous post) bonfire and night hike.
One of my favorite stories has become Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I first met Alice a few summers ago when I learned I would be reading Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There with my eighth graders. Naturally, I thought Alice and I might need to become better acquainted. Sixth months later, I adapted both novels for the stage (with a greater emphasis on Wonderland and a few beloved scenes and characters from Looking-Glass), using Martin Gardner’s annotated version.
Growing up in a Baptist church, I didn’t hear much about mystery. Sermons were deep, but also highly logical, focusing often on analyzing a short text, which was great, and I learned a lot, but each tradition in Christ’s Body has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, hence our need for each other. Some traditions probably focus too much on mystery or use it as an excuse to not think, while others, like the one in which I grew up, tend to be safely cerebral, to the unintentional exclusion of mystery.
Fruitless. Late at night, the word attacks my mind and heart. Worse than failure, this word pierces my feminine soul. Worse than the proverbial feeling of insignificance in relationships or at work, I’m approaching thirty with no children.
My Shakespeare professor chanted the first lines of Beowulf in Old English to help us better understand the rhythm of Anglo-Saxon poetry. While I’d read the poem multiple times, I didn’t exactly have the first line memorized, but it didn’t matter. There was magic in these words I couldn’t understand and wouldn’t have recognized if you’d placed them before me. But the archaic words hailed something otherworldly, and my soul longed for it, though I couldn’t tell you what it was.