Monday, May 22, 2006

reflecting, on last bell ringing

So I first wrote this last year for the old blog I use to keep in touch with friends from Vanguard. I opted to post it again for two reasons. One is to tell about "last bell ringing," the ceremony that each graduating class in Czech high schools stages on their last day of classes before they start maturitas---without me having to write about it again. The other is to look back on what was going through my head a year ago at this time.

May 6, 2005 - 6. května 2005

The first phone call this morning said: "Bring your camera."

The second said: "Hurry."

Fridays are my light day. I teach one class in the afternoon and my mornings are free. I usually take advantage of this by allowing myself the now lavish luxury of sleeping in until 7:00, 7:30 or---alas!---8:00. Last night was a late night---Brian's been packing for a trip home to Canada for a wedding and leaves today---so I opted for 7:30, needing to prepare for a meeting this morning.

I was well on my way to hitting school cozy and quiet after the first bell of the day when I the phone calls struck in quick succession. And so my steps came in a quick clip-clip-splash-clip over pavement and through puddles.

And I was greeted at the gate by 25 wild-eyed boys dressed in bath robes and holding high-caliber squirt guns, who insisted that I pay a toll. Knuckles and wide-eyes went white along the plastic barrels as I paused, thinking what to do. I was the first to shoot.

...with my camera. Then I paid. Then they posed for another. Then I passed quickly through, lest they change their mind.

It was all part of last bell ringing, the last official day of normal classes for student preparing for their school-leaving exams. Other groups collected money in umbrellas, passing through the hallways, bowing graciously to teachers, poking a bright camcorder into everyone's face.

Sentiment runs high. Everbody is happy to celebrate, but good-byes are deeply felt, but nobody's quite sure how to feel. This year, most of my 4th years and I aren't close, but Brian, who's saying goodbye both to students he's taught for three years as well as to the Czech Republic at the end of this June, is in the thick of it. He's saying goodbye to a whole life.

And so the end of my first year in the Czech Republic is dawning (sic). I'm working hard not to count the days until my flight home for the summer (as of Wednesday it'll be 50). I'm also trying to pass on the temptation to push relationship growth with friends and students back until next year. The inclination is to coast. The need is to live the next 50 days fully—and fully present.

The past 8 ½ months, God has brought me (thrashing at times) closer to that place I so joyfully (definitely naively) proclaimed I was looking forward to last summer---where I have to depend on Him more completely than ever. Oh, the view is terrific, but the way is steep and rocky.

To those of you weak from climbing: come on up higher. It's worth the strain, the bruises—the frontier surgery. "He who promised is faithful."

To you established climbers: feel free to drop me a rope.


At 23/5/06 16:45, Anonymous denim woman said...

Do you have the same feelings about it as you did last year?


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