So the embarrassing thing is that THIS year we prepared our Christmas cards, we addressed them and we had them READY TO GO (thankfully we left off the stamps) -- and then, the Christmas-time-Crunch kicked in and we just didn't send 'em.
So they're sitting up in my closet right now, waiting for a minor re-boot to be sent next year, and in the meantime, I'm feeling a little like there are some dangling loose ends in my life. Connections that I haven't (re)made and (re)affirmed at the appropriate ritualistic moment.
Today is my make-contact-with-people-I-love-and-miss in order to just catch up and affirm how grateful I am that you're in my life.
As tradition would have it -- this touching-base does include an update on what's going on in my /(our) lives...so if you've been keeping up, you can go ahead and skip to the last sentences.
(another savvy reader note: this narrative will not be sprinkled with the traditional allotment of photographic images -- my flickr page (link on the sidebar) offers a glut of images, that you image-lovers can engorge -- no offense meant, of course, being quite an image-lover / voyeur myself...)
We've been in Canton, Ohio now for nine years. I've now lived in this same house for longer than I've lived in any house in my life. And more amazing? I'm not itching to leave. (more on that here)
While I continue to teach at Malone College, many of the most life-giving aspects of my world are beyond the strict boundaries of my work there. Here are some of my favorite things:
I have become increasingly involved in bringing short films and art films and indy films into local circulation -- working together with a very unusual group of people to do so...
My brother and I shot two short films last year and we're on the verge of sending one of them off to festivals; the other will take a few more months. Shooting the films allowed us to have a kind of cathartic experience with a group of 12 artists that was definitely worthwhile and profound regardless of the outcomes of the film (hopefully the outcomes are good though!). (more on this topic here)
I really dig the faith community of which I'm a part. There's plenty of room there for my angst and leftover anger at fundamentalism -- and it usually gets gently turned back toward the much more difficult effort changing what's wrong inside of me and embracing the Christian virtues of grace, forgiveness & hospitality. It's a bunch of people who listen well, are honest about brokenness, and believe in story and presence. A good path for middle-aged-me.
(and more related to my job) I do have the chance to work with creative, engaging, and bright students who care about story and performance and media and relationship.
(of course I also work with the other sort of students, but we're talking about life-giving now, remember?)
I'm also very grateful for the department I work in -- we constitute the radical fringe at this evangelical college -- but we do it with aplomb and panache. And we support one another's efforts. We work hard to make all our decisions by consensus, and while this process can be long and slow, the people are bright and sparkling and funny -- so the outcome is happiness.
My friends, of course, both here and far, have always been a source of sustaining hope. Some through regular laughter and honesty; others through distant ties, memories and occasional reunions. I feel that these relationships are the greatest riches of my life.
My immediate family is, luckily, a Primary Source of Life.
My partner Lynn has been devoting her work to urban education & adolescent literacy for under-resourced populations. For three years she ran a "Center for Learning" in the poorest high school in our county (with great successes) and when Federal funding ran out this year, she was selected for a position overseeing all Language Arts Curriculum in the city district. An affirmation of her work and gifts that is well deserved. She is almost halfway through her Ph.D. program, too, and of course is able to do all of this and be an incredibly tender, thoughtful, strategic co-parent for Jaelyn & Addison.
Our partnership is probably richest (and hardest) because of how different we are, but after twenty years of friendship, so many of our values and opinions are indistinguishable that the Things-In-Common category has probably caught up with the Things-Not-Held-In-Common.
My kids have a great school here; it's alternative in it's approach to education, yet public in its funding / access. What a lucky, amazing option to have. Did I mention that there's more adoptive / multi-racial families than any other school I've ever seen?
Jaelyn is nine and intuitive, spontaneous, nurturing and happy. Addison is seven and competitive, funny, logical and passionate.
Like any parent, I could go on forever about these two, but the only directions for that narrative are:
saccharine flavored tales of cute, precocious incidents (many of which can be found in this and other blogs)
(the more honest, but ) inappropriately disclosive stories-which-should-be-their-stories, still-in-progress, contingent-and-frighteningly-unpredictable-in-their-outcomes.
Much more on the family unit is available here.
Just returned from a prolonged visit with the Michigan Rudds. Returning to the people-you-came-from can be frightening for many people; for me it's only frightening because I continue to recognize so much of who I am and why-I-am-who-I-am when I'm with them. I enjoy my extended family profoundly and am grateful for them. And this year (as opposed to last!) things seem to be going generally well (read their blogs if you want more dish...)
Now for the category of Not Really Life-giving, but Definitely Major Shaping Events In Our Life:
Lynn's dad has terminal cancer. Doctors have given him a year to (at the unlikely most) three years. You can imagine how this news feels. Many of you have walked through similar journeys. It is hard to say anything general enough to be appropriate to the medium when it comes to this story. Every part of it seems very specific, personal and constantly-in-flux.
(skimming-readers, pick up here: these will be the final sentences!)
This experience does make us value our relationships with you though. And it makes me wish that we could have more face-time. And it reminds me of my gratefulness for the part you have played in my life, the slideshow of your faces has been rolling as I have been writing, and its been good to see you...as always....