Reflections on a Misty Day

Here on the Hill, we joke around about living inside the Bryan Bubble, an imaginary enclosure that keeps us separate from the outside world. There are some days when being shut off from the world starts to feel claustrophobic; when you have to work hard to keep up with current events. As much as we might enjoy our little community, its easy to feel shut off in a negative way.

 However, that's not exactly what's on my mind tonight. As I walked up the stairs to my third floor class this afternoon, I got a view out the broad windows that look out over the edge of campus. The weather was typical to January today, grey and chill with a slight drizzle, pretty much as it has been this past week. But unlike the previous days, a mist had settled in on the the hill, shrouding the handful of buildings in a fine grey cloak. I realized that I couldn't see beyond the trees that edge the campus. I could almost believe that we were truly the only people in the world at that moment. Instead feeling shut off, I felt rather secure. The mist was close, heavy, and comforting. It was a feeling much like that of lying under a heavy quilt on a cold night, in that wonderful space of time between consciousness and sleep where dreams reside. Day progressed into evening and the sun set. (Though I never caught a glimpse of it, I trust that it had remembered to rise as it always does.) The silver grey sky turned rich navy and violet, and still the mist hung low. Lights from the buildings lit everything with a warm glow, and made fanciful silhouettes out of the winter-bare trees. Small things like this make my soul revel in the glory of a well-fed imagination. On these days I can't help but think the lyrics of a favorite Sara Groves song, "maybe this was made for me." It might seem presumptuous, but I can imagine being the only person in the world, knowing that even for just me, He still would have given His life. Even with the millions that have been and are and will be in the future, I know that God loves me as if I were the only person in the world, and he made this day just for me.

Letter Writing

It may seem silly to be writing a letter to the person you're sitting beside, but when two lives are as busy as ours, you begin to realize that sometimes the best way of communication is in letter form. A letter requires the receiver to take a pause from the rest of the world. The posture of reading, head down, eyes not making contact with passers-by, is a body signal to society that says, "hey, I'm reading, my mind is focused elsewhere at the moment." Generally--though sadly, not all the time--a would-be interrupter doesn't intrude. But even if the reader's concentration is broken momentarily, both reader and writer of the letter have the happy fortune of having the thoughts solidly in ink on paper. There is no train of thought to be derailed mid-voyage; it embarks and arrives in one piece (provided the letter is not lost in the mail.) In this manner as some friendships kept up during hard times.
And so, despite the fact that it's recipient sits right next to me in the matching brown armchairs of the library, I write on. The weekly letter, whether answered or not, sorts my thoughts. As much as I write for her, I'm also writing for myself. Much like my journal, I process important ideas, events, and thoughts as I write. But unlike my journal, having the conversation of a letter often stirs my thoughts more than usual. Its good for me.

Then there's the joy of finding something other than a graded french quiz in your mailbox. I check it almost every time I walk by. One can always hope. I write because I believe in the old rule... "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

I've walked around school this evening with the finished letter neatly folded in half, then in thirds, secured close with a paper clip and properly addressed with name and box number. I could hand deliver it--her door is kitty-corner to mine--but I will choose to drop it in the intermural mail slot tomrrow morning as I walk to the library. A mailbox should never be empty long.


There's this weird feeling I get at the beginning of a semester before classes start, but right after I get back on campus. There's the excitement of seeing my best-beloveds again, the relief of getting settled back into the room that I call home 8 months out of the year (though a twinge of missing-ness for my family's home is mixed in), and the anticipation of all the things I'm about to learn in the semesters classes. But mixed in with these feelings is one that has, until recently, remained unnamed in my mind. I Named it by accident just yesterday, just stumbling across the thought in a moment when I hadn't even been looking for it.

Its was my first full day of being back and I had walked down to lunch alone, my companions all being occupied with errands.Scanning in at the gate, I ventured into the cafeteria slowly, scanning for a familiar face at one of the many tables. Red-Zoning is what they call it here. I just call it scary. Finally spotting two of my girl-friends I made my way over to join them.  "I'm so glad you're here! I was just standing there feeling so insecure, hoping I'd find someone I know." And with that I realized that I had named the nameless.

Insecurity is exactly the feeling I have struggled to name. There's a thousand little worries that pop up in my mind when I come back to school after a break. --will my friends have changed?--will they still want me around?--will I be able to find the right classrooms on the first day?--Am I taking too many classes?--Am I way out of my league academically?
I start to feel little. The least.
The least wanted.
The least lovable.
The least smart.
The least capable.

Even now, as I face the beginning of my senior library internship, with thoughts of staff meetings, policy writing, and interviews swimming around in my head, I feel like a child again--totally unprepared to deal with being a grown adult. But there is power in possessing a name, now that I know what exactly I'm dealing with, I can begin to fight it. Have I not been told that I am more important than even the smallest bird that The Father has seen fall?

Everyday is a struggle to remember my importance in the Father's eyes. After all, that's what really matters.


Dear Children-of-mine-who-are-yet-to-be,
I look forward to the day that I hold you in my arms, count your toes, kiss your nose, and finally Name you. I think that I will be well prepared for you in many senses... thanks to my eight siblings--your new aunts and uncles--I have been trained rigorously in the fields of diaper changing, baby food smashing, laundry doing and late-night coddling. These are some of the technical aspects of taking care of a child that any growing girl can learn, given the proper circumstances. There are others that an older sister simply cannot learn, no matter how hard she tries, because of the simple fact that the children she is surrounded by are not hers. Mother-love, I am learning, is very different from Sister-love. When you carry around a person inside your body for nine months you I suppose you would get very attached.
There is one thing less technical, but more... personal, that I have slowly acquired over my growing up years--one of those things that you finally see leading to a head once you're at a certain age--and that is my own personal style in lullaby singing. Your grandmother's example for me was laid out in a nightly singing of a few select songs, that have become permanently ingrained in my repertoire. "Jesus Loves Me", "Whisper a Prayer" and "I Love You (A Bushel and a Peck)" are a few that you will no doubt hear over the course of your time as my child. But from the time I was 12, a few songs have crept into my playlist that my mother would probably never have dreamed of singing to me. I've found my self singing them to baby siblings and to children that I babysit, right alongside the old standards. They are songs that color my life,  my interests and tastes, in specific ways. Whether or not I actually attain my long sought-after degree of library science before I meet your father, and have you remains to be seen, but you will have no doubt of your mothers love for literature as you grow up (though I promise to not read you Tolstoy before you're ready). Your name, may or may not reference old literary friends, and your shelves will be overflowing from the books-only baby showers I will request. But back to the songs.
I will sing to you "Into the West" from Return of the King, remembering the peace and rest of the Grey Havens and praying that you too will "lay down your sweet and weary head." It always worked when I sang it to your Fifth-Uncle. I will sing "In Dreams" from The Fellowship, reminding you that you are never far from my mind and heart while you sleep, and no matter where you go. And I will sing you Cosette's "Castle on a Cloud" maybe somewhat ironically pointing you to a place where "no one cries" for "crying at all is not allowed."You will listen to them blindly, not knowing where they originate until the day you are old enough to watch these movies. Then you will stir in recognition as the credits roll, realizing that all this time your mum sang that one song to you as you drifted off to sleep. These, my dear child, are the quirks of your mother, the songs that come to mind when the child in bed asks for one more song, and then another. They are my gift to you, from the stories that have effected me the most deeply as I have grown, and one day you will know them too.
Sweet Dreams.