Whew--things have finally calmed down.
After all the festivities were over, and after the kitchen workers cleaned up and moved on to their next job, I packed up and headed off to a national church committee meeting in Houston. We were there to advice PDA.
Two years ago, we visited the Gulf Coast in and about New Orleans to see the damage wrought by Hurricane Katrina. Then a year ago, we visited San Diego to see the destruction the fires had inflicted on that area. Now, this year we visited Houston--actually Texas City--to see what Hurricane Ike had done. This hurricane has been called the forgotten hurricane, because it barely registered in the consciousness of U.S. citizens--for example, where Presbyterians donated millions to help Katrina victims, not even one million was donated for Ike. Yet this hurricane was the THIRD most destructive in U.S. history.
Every time we have visited a place where incredible destruction has turned people's lives upside down, I am struck by the magnitude of people to respond to the needs of their "neighbors." In Texas City, one of the Presbyterian churches there is now hosting a work camp that houses volunteers who come to do reconstruction work. The camp, housed in trailers, can host about 40 people if the trailers alone are used. It can house another 40 if people sleep in the gym. What is so amazing about this church is that it has about 30 active worshippers on any Sunday. So here's a community of believers fewer in numbers than the people they are hosting. And they do this week after week after week.
Since the meeting was held in an airport hotel in Houston, I saw little of the city itself. No matter--I saw so many mosquitoes that I did not mind not being out and about. Further, this was my last meeting--in preparation for a new normal, I have stepped down from the committee.
Ah, the new normal--what might that be?
Well, wedding over, kitchen renovated, we can now turn to finding a different pace of life. You see, my husband has officially been retired for a whole month. Where I had been accustomed to being home most days on my own, there are now two of us. So, when a serendipitous opportunity arises, my husband might say--why don't we do...
And, I want to be able to say--sure. To that end, I have asked to have next semester off from teaching. That way, we can try several uninterrupted months to see what activities we can pursue. Travel? Volunteer work? Cleaning out the garage and the basement? Visiting family? Even just general puttering? Yes, yes and yes to all of the above.
The only thing that I can predict with confidence is that we will find our way to a new normal. And, I suspect, enjoy every minute of it.