Injustice

This is a word that I still ponder. Not that I ponder the meaning; I ponder the solution. Many people wring their hands and say how can a supposedly good and just God let injustice run rampant in the world? I don’t know. I usually come back to the idea that humans have free will, and God does not interfere with it. Therefore, humans do things that are wrong, things that cause injustice.

Can all my rights fix their wrongs? Probably not in this life. But how can I lessen the effect of injustice in the world?

Great question, and it’s one that I’m still trying to answer.

We discussed something very basic in our church’s Lenten Bible study the other night – the fact that one of the things that made Jesus’ walk on earth so incredible is that he respected everyone and cast no one aside.

I could not pour enough money into trying to fix world hunger, or all of my efforts to equip all students with necessary supplies, but if I have not love, what good are my efforts? What injustice does it really undo or assuage?

I think the biggest impact I can have on the world’s injustice is loving everyone and excluding no one.

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”

I Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

 

Finding our voices

Every time I get the inspiration or urge to write, something stops me. It’s almost like a paralysis, but it’s completely intangible. I imagine it’s a bit like being under anesthesia, able to feel but unable to speak. Actually, that’s exactly what it is.

Two years of hopefulness followed by hopelessness ad nauseum can really render someone speechless. Screaming on the inside but unable to formulate shapes with the mouth and vibrations with the vocal chords.

There’s so much to say and nothing at all. Some days I feel like an old woman, content to sit in the silence, meditating or pondering the rays of light that come through the window. I move slow, think slower, and hours can go by with nothing more than a few sentences loosely parsed together.

I’m trying to find my place in the world. I feel like part of my soul is missing some of the time. At almost 31, I’m established in my career but not necessarily because this was my goal. I fell into career success. Great, right? Kind of.

Nevertheless, every day in my care are 20 children, ages 5 to 10, all learning English and finding their place in the world, too. They’ve been my focus of whatever maternal instinct has survived this descent. I cherish their smiles and hugs, and their insightful and goofy anecdotes about life. I help them write, putting the words on the page. And in helping them find their voices, I’m finding mine too.

 

Indulging our intellect.

I love academic conferences. They’re kind of the place where all the best and brightest and nerdiest meet. We’re brought together in one place once a year, simultaneously sharing all the awesome and original ideas swimming through our heads. Academic conferences are a place where you can be your BA nerdy self and instead of being ostracized, people love it. It’s fantastic. They are also a place where you can get refilled and refreshed about the work that maybe you started out loving in an idealized dreamland, but then it became rote, lonely, and busy.

I also love the opportunity to explore new cities. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled with the choice of Pittsburgh for the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) conference. I mean, I’d never been there, and I really didn’t know exactly where it was… I knew it was kind of close to Ohio and beyond that, I just waved my hand and said, It’s… over there, two time zones away.

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Pittsburgh has turned out to be great, and as I walk around to dinner or to get coffee, or to view the sunset over the rivers (yes, that’s plural, like, more than one river), the air has the scent of a quickly approaching fall and sweet sweet humidity. Let it be known I have a love-hate relationship with humidity since it destroyed my curls today. However, I have no shame. I went right back up to my room after the keynote speech and redid those darn curls on my stick-straight hair. While inhaling coffee.

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Academic conferences seem to stop time. There’s something about exploring a new city for a few days with absolutely no responsibility. My husband just returned from quite possibly his last Army trip ever, but I am still relishing the few more days I have to sleep completely taking up the whole bed and using as many blankets as I want. (Princess and the Pea, anyone?)

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More than just learning more about our fields of research and practice, academic conferences allow us just to be. To indulge in freeing our minds without the worries of immediate replies to student emails, or the constant call of essay grading. To remember that yes, we do know a thing or two about teaching and writing and all the lovely things we studied in grad school, and we practice them well.

For me, these opportunities are beyond invaluable. In a time in my life when circumstances are up in the air (hello, we are soon to be a veteran and his spouse) or out of my control, these opportunities give me a sense of purpose and validation. They stoke that fire that was kindled so long ago to be a teacher-researcher-scholar. And after the last session of the day, I will breathe in every cool humid breath of air as I go for a run along the riverfront.