The evening of March 25th found me and six others in the home of my associate pastor, celebrating the Feast of the Annunciation around a long and laden banqueting table. However, like good hobbits, we were also celebrating the destruction of the Ring of Power and hailing the Gondorian New Year—that day when Sauron the Great met his doom and when Frodo and Sam were “brought out of the fire to the King.” The food was rich, but the conversation was sublime.
It has become my custom to begin every class period with the reading of a Psalm, and usually the same Psalm for each day of the week throughout a given quarter. Mondays, however, are different. We begin instead by reading from the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, which is a potent reminder for all of us that the time for rest (Sunday) is over and that the time for study and labor has come again.
My reading in the Year of Our Lord 2018 was marked by some fairly deliberate attempts (emphasis on attempts) at slow reading as a counter to my long-standing tradition of attempting to speed read. Hilariously, I am but a poor example of either discipline.
The last day of the 2017-2018 school year was a poignant one for me, to say the least. Most last days are, of course, but this one found me on the verge of a cross-country move which would all but guarantee that I would never see some of my fifth-graders again. We had come through a long, often hard year that I would neither then nor now trade for love or money. We were a tight bunch, frankly, and we loved one another in ways that only divine goodness could explain.
I made my most recent journey through The Lord of the Rings this summer. It was, notably, the first such trip that I have taken at the stop-and-go speed of my (too many) annotations, rather than at the speed by which my gleeful hobbit heart might have wished to “get on to the next good part.” Unsurprisingly, this was also the most fruitful re-read yet.
As the beginning of another school year looms in front of us, and as I attempt to align enough ducks to guard against any irreparable meltdowns during the first several weeks of class, I find myself, yet again, thinking more about the broad teleological nature of this work rather than some of the specifics of my lesson plans. Surely the former informs the latter, but perhaps there is a degree to which I should shut down the armchair philosophizing long enough to tighten a few practical nuts and bolts.