Peg Duthie on miracles
Progressive Faith Blog Con

Scenes from student life

Arguably I had good reasons for dropping the ball. The Hebrew ball, I mean. As I mentioned a while back, what I really wanted was an online course in Biblical or Medieval Hebrew, something that would help me read Torah and Talmud and Rashi more fluently. What I got was a class in Modern, which will no doubt serve me well in some generalized way but which has been a frustratingly slow slog because most of the vocabulary is new to me and I've resented learning it because it isn't making Torah any easier, darn it all!

The last few weeks have also been pretty hectic. There was a trip to Texas to visit my folks; the URJ Biennial, about which I blogged a mighty lot; Thanksgiving and all its attendant happy chaos. I had my first dip into Rashi, and a Torah portion to learn and teach. Top that with a freelance article for a local magazine and a bunch of big deadlines at Inkberry, and it makes some sense that not only did I drop the Hebrew ball, but it rolled away into the corner under a large piece of furniture and started collecting dustbunnies.

What this meant, though, was that I woke up at the start of December and realized that I was four chapters behind the rest of the class. There's nothing quite like recognizing that one is in an enormous hole of one's own making. Dropping the class was tempting -- after all, it hasn't been helpful in the ways I'd hoped it would be, and I'm not taking it for credit, anyway -- but that felt like an admission of failure, and left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

So this morning I woke up early, made myself an enormous pot of Lapsang Souchong tea, and sat down with my textbook, the class website, and a dictionary. And as of this writing, though my eyes are a little bit glazed over and I'm badly in need of a good long stretch, I'm proud to report that I am now caught up -- even a little bit ahead of the game; I've finished the chapter that's due on December 7th, so I'm three days ahead. Ahead. What a delightful word.

This fall has been an exercise in balancing priorities: my preexisting obligations to my arts nonprofit with my desire to immerse in school, the rigors of hospital chaplaincy work with the reading and writing my telecourse has required, one deadline with another. There's never enough time to do everything justice. (It's arguable that, as frustrating as the balancing act has sometimes been, it's excellent training for life as a rabbi. Unless the rabbinate is one of those careers where it's easy to cross everything off the list and one never has the sensation of being needed in a dozen different directions and places at once? Yeah, I thought not.)

I'm getting better at juggling, and that's got to be good for me. That said, it was surprisingly satisfying to be able to dedicate an entire day to one thing, and get it really and truly done. I'd been dreading this pile of work, and the longer I left it alone, the worse it got; it feels great to be in the right place again, with only two chapters left before the end of the year. Maybe now that I'm caught up on Hebrew homework, I'll be able to blog without guilt this week...


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