I have these friends. We like to run together. Sometimes it’s two of us, sometimes three or four or five. We mostly like to run in the woods, though I never run on trails without them because I’m sure I’d get lost. We call ourselves the Pink Baboonz. Don’t ask. I’m honestly not really sure where that came from.
What I do know is that even though I genuinely enjoy running, I still have times when I struggle to get out the door. In those times, I can call a Baboon, and set a date and we’re good to go.
I have a bee in my bonnet. A bone to pick. An axe to grind. And its about liberal arts education. I’m ALL fired up. So bear with me as I mount my soapbox for a moment and then we’ll move on to what this has to do with community (because I promise you, there’s a connection there somewhere – there always is).
In case you haven’t heard, liberal arts colleges are getting a bad rap these days. Parents and prospective students alike are questioning the value of a liberal arts education. Conventional wisdom suggests that its a better deal to send your kids to a technical school where they will learn marketable skills (i.e. nursing, engineering, etc) or go to community college and live at home to save money.
After all, a degree is a degree, right?
We walked into St. Mark’s cathedral on Seattle’s Capitol Hill and settled on a bench along the rear-left of the beautiful space. It was dark and quiet, even as hundreds more filtered in shortly before the 9:30PM Compline service was about to begin.
Compline at St. Mark’s is each Sunday night, and the service is sung by the all-male Compline Choir. When you combine the heavenly blend of men’s voices with the kind of acoustics you can really only find in a cathedral and then add in a dash of hipster/artsy-fartsy/postmodern, beauty-seeking Seattle culture, you can start to understand why this liturgical service has an almost cult-like following.
My two Seattle-ite friends sat on one side of me, and soon an older man settled in on my right. It was clear that, while most of us there were posers in a sense, showing up for the aesthetics of the evening, this guy was a real Anglican. He crossed himself when he came into the building and, as the service progressed, he participated confidently–standing when you’re supposed to stand, ‘amen’-ing when you’re supposed to ‘amen,’ and even singing along at times when you’re not supposed to. He was the real deal.
I, too, am a confirmed introvert. I am totally energized by being by myself.
Then mornings like this happen and I wonder what on earth possessed me to put myself in a situation where this much craziness ensues:
6:00AM – Alarm goes off. I’m supposed to get up so that I can get a run in before my day really starts. In retrospect, I think it was probably the right call to hit snooze as many times as I did…
7:00AM – I finally drag myself out of bed. We’ve started a total bathroom renovation of our only full bath, and the week has been draining. I fix my coffee and grab a leftover pancake from yesterday’s breakfast. I sit in my favorite recliner and read a book for half an hour while my husband sits next to me and works on plans to build a vanity. His name is John.
8:00AM – My darling three-year-old gets up. Shortly after, her five-year-old sister joins us to cuddle in the living room. Meanwhile, the plumber/electrician/generally-awesome-guy-who-knows-how-to-do-everything shows up to start work in the bathroom. His name is John.
My best friend moved away today.
If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know what it means when I say that she is my person. The one who gets me. And I get her. And now she’s gone.
My husband and I spent our first five years of marriage in Ithaca, the home of both Cornell University and Ithaca College. By nature of it being a college town, there was a large transient population. Nearly all of our close friends were students of some kind, destined to move away eventually.
So when we moved to our current tiny town, we expected that the transience would stop and we’d settle into some life-long friendships. People, this is a town where there are still folks living on the roads that are named after their ancestors. There’s a lot of loyalty to this place, and some pretty impressive family trees. For example, there is a family in our church which has four generations of attenders.
And yes, there's a road named after them.
I love traveling. I’ve spent a few months living in both Australia and England and have made trips to Africa, Europe and Central America as well as multiple cross-country American vacations. I am energized by experiencing new cultures, seeing natural beauty, encountering native wild animals. I always thought I’d be the woman who lived in Any-Country-That-Is-Not-America. Other people might have prayed, “Anywhere but Africa,” but my prayer was, “Anywhere but rural, upstate New York”!
That's not how my life has turned out.
I grew up in rural, upstate New York. I went to college in rural, upstate New York. My husband went to graduate school in rural, upstate New York, and now we currently live in rural, upstate New York.
That’s rural, upstate New York for the win!