I’m excited to report that I’m writing this post from my campus office. It’s the first time in sixteen months that I’ve written a post from this space and it’s honestly a little weird. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I quickly came to campus and took out the essentials. A bunch of books. A monitor. Some files. And I quickly left my office in a state of disarray. And I’m paying for that quick departure now. I’m looking at post-it notes I left myself during the beginning of the Spring 2020 and trying to remember what I was trying to communicate to myself then. I’m finding stacks of old meeting agendas and lesson handouts and I’m wondering what I should keep and what I should toss. In a way, it’s like I’m moving into an apartment where the previous resident left all their stuff in the closets and the refrigerator for the next resident to clean up. Except I’m the previous resident and the next resident and I’m basically here cursing myself. So, while I’m excited to be back in my office, I’m also angry at myself for leaving things in this disheveled state.
As I’m sifting through stacks of random papers and other infuriating stuff I’ve left myself, I came across a two-page letter that was hidden amongst the trash. When I started to read the letter, I instantly remembered who sent the letter and why I saved it. I wrote about the letter in a post from January 2020 (which seems like a lifetime ago…). Without retelling the whole story, in Fall 2019, Amy (not her real name) was a graduate student in one of my classes who needed a little grace and empathy as she dealt with a serious family illness. She wrote the letter to update me on the situation and to thank me for my compassion. But the weird part is how I’m reinterpreting this letter in the wake of the pandemic and this long journey we’ve all taken. And the one we’re continuing to take. And how hopeful and eerily prophetic it is. Amy writes:
“As teacher’s we are trained to be flexible and have back-up plans for back-up plans, so you can imagine how far out of my comfort zone this journey has been. The reality is that there is a limited amount of planning we can do in the grand scheme of things. What I have learned thus far is that mindset is crucial. And that has been my focus over the past few months…. I am not sure what the road ahead looks like, but I know there is hope. There is bountiful hope that exceeds my expectations. I have always believed that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle, and I would certainly say that he has proved this. Someday in the future I hope to have the opportunity to pay forward the kindness you showed me as teacher. Trust that I will.”
I know that Amy wrote that letter with a completely different message and story in mind. But as I read it, I found hope and kindness and comfort there for the journey we’re taking now.
I’m done cursing myself for the messy state in which I’ve left my office when I vacated it sixteen months ago. Instead, I’m thankful for the hidden treasures of joy I left my future self to find. As Amy writes, mindset is crucial.