Officially ten (or so) days into the fall semester and it is both glorious and ridiculous in terms of the amount of reading and scheduling required to make things work, Learner says. World-class athletes have no margin for missing work-outs or sloughing off on their diets as their bodies are so finely tuned and affected by even the slightest deviation from their regimen; the same feels true for him right now (minus the world-class athlete physique and the almost humorous idea of Learner on some kind of diet).
And yet, he’s loving it as it really feels like what he thought graduate school/seminary might. Between Learner and Mrs. Learner, they have 19 hours, but even with homeschooling their four children, this has seemed fairly manageable (even fun). If they’ve felt any struggle with schedules right now, it’s been because of random external circumstances (day-and-a-half membership class at church this past weekend combined with Mrs. Learner’s parents being here; the family gearing up to go to the farm next weekend so the children can experience the local Apple Festival, etc.). After next weekend, Learners says he thinks they’ll be able to hunker down and be okay.
And yet, Learner wouldn’t be Learner if there wasn’t a flip-side. Here’s what he says he’s nervous about:
- Papers – not so much writing them but researching them (it’s been a long time, he says, and he’s not sure he knows all the rules for the process anymore, especially now that everything’s changed because of the Internet). He hopes to get some time at the seminary’s Writing Center soon for some pointers.
- Relationships – it’s been good in that they’ve connected with some folks so far, but already Learner says he feels he’s toward the brim of his people-cup, at least in terms of doing more with a few and being cordial and interested in the rest. Being on campus is still a great thing and he loves walking to class and seeing many people whose names he knows (he still remembers what it felt like to be lost in a sea of humanity at his university of countless thousands); however, there are folks he gravitates toward and others he doesn’t, and he’s still figuring out how to think about that.
- The children – in many respects, he’s as close to his kids as he’s ever been in terms of locale, time, and initiative, and yet they are really beginning to change (his two oldest, especially). Trying to keep track of what’s going on with each of them is requiring some new discipline on his part to evolve his parenting tendencies and let them learn some things in some new ways. It’s good, he says, and he’s learning as they do, but it’s also different, just as everything else about their lives seems to be these days.
In general, though, he’s encouraged by the fact that the family is here and that they’re here now – at this stage of their lives – and not earlier or later. God’s timing, he says, has seemed quite right in many respects, and he’s trusting that the sense of that is also the reality of it. While he and Mrs. Learner are far from figuring things out, they are working hard and making the most of the opportunities before them in a way that matches the challenges coming at them.
Learner said he had the thought the other day that, if for some reason, someone told him he had a year to live so what would he do with it, his thought was that he’s doing what he wants to do with it now, though that’s not always been the case in the past. All in all, he says, it feels like a really good fit so far, dead or alive.