Pleasant Surprises

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Hello from the study in my house,

It was a busy, but productive, week as I noted in both my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Today I had the opportunity to serve as a judge of the Pennsylvania Forensics Association competition that was held here at Bloom. I judged both debate and poetry. I was so astounded by some of the presentations. Those students give me hope. They are traveling on a tough-weather weekend to demonstrate the hard work they have put into their different events. It was stunning to see how polished and dedicated they were. One of the students was in my University Seminar class some years back (it cannot be that many as I am only in my fifth here), but his poetry was quite exemplary. It was really pleasant as I note in my title to be involved today. 

I did get much of what I hoped to accomplish this week, but there is still more. I did not get that much of my own work today, so the remainder of the weekend needs to be extremely focused. Of course, then there has been our weather. I have shoveled more this week than I think I have in four years here in Pennsylvania. I bought an ice chopper last weekend. I tried to use it today and it snapped in half. I guess I will back at Lowe’s with it tomorrow to see if it has some sort of “7 day” warranty. Really?? What the heck!! Fortunately, it was not that cold out today and there was no wind, so show by itself is very manageable. I will be working on BOLT work and grading for the remainder of the weekend. I might have to spend some time in the @FogandFlame tomorrow. I am realizing that all that work I did to get ahead before the semester began has been used up. I need about three days of solid work to get through break. 

It is hard to believe, especially considering the inches (feet) of snow outside that Spring Break will actually be occurring a month from today. My break will be spent doing tenure things. I have a couple things to do for that this week. We will decide on a candidate this week also. My committee members have been emailing things today and I am still pondering. I dislike all of these sort of things because I realize all too keenly that we are deciding people’s lives. That is very serious to me. I remember having to rank people my first year here and I left that meeting sick to my stomach. The only other time I was that ill from what had occurred was the day I was ordained as a pastor. My family had a reception for me and I went to bed because I was so overwhelmed with the ordination vows I had taken. I am reminded of the story of Martin Luther the first time he presided over the Eucharist. He was overwhelmed too. 

This past week was a week that Charles Dickens would appreciate and one that he specifically might have used his famous words from the Tale of Two Cities. I had students not show up for conferences or for class most of the week. I also had students come to meet with me on a snow day to conference about their papers. I am so grateful for their hard work and commitment to trying to improve. It is for those people that I teach. However, it is also for the people who struggle or wonder why they are there or wonder if they can do it. I have been reminded this week again of those different learning styles. I wish I could manage them all well. Sometimes I just don’t; I fall on my face. I wish there was something I could do to prepare when I get caught in those moments of wondering “now what”? 

Last summer, I was blessed to have a student in class who was insightful, enjoyable, intelligent, a strong writer, and a character. He has provided me a moniker of “the evil gnome”. I am not sure I like the adjective, but I can manage the gnome part. I have been fortunate to catch up with him again this semester. Within that realm of my existence, there has been the pleasant surprise of getting to know more of his background and life outside of the classroom. He is fortunate enough to have people close to him around, both to help him be employed on campus as well as keep him “somewhat” in line. Everyone once in a while, we find that someone who comes into our life and has the ability to stun us. It is not often that a person catches me off guard by their ability to think, analyze, and ask insightful questions. That has happened this week. What a most wonderful surprise. It is even more interesting when he or she is still an undergraduate. I think it is not so much because of their age, but because of the ability to see both the university and the world from an outsider perspective. I can understand how that can make a person more critical or analytical, but when their critique is so balanced and intelligent it makes me want to hear more about what he or she wants to say. 

I have this saying about God having given us brains to do more than hold our ears apart. The brain in this one is quite astounding. It brightens my day when I can have a conversation of substance, a conversation of consequence, a conversation that gives me hope for this world. To the next conversation . . . 

Thanks for reading as always. 

Dr. Martin (aka: Miguelito)

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