It’s been quite a while since I keyed in any texts on this blog. The reasons or excuses are legion.
I have been traveling a lot this year. First, it was to and fro Malaysia and Norway to orientate myself, and settle in the family. Then there was the courses at Lesbos Island, Greece and Uppsala, Sweden. The last round was San Francisco and Denver, USA with long flights are quite a few transits via Stavanger, London, Frankfurt, Oslo then back home. So, all this demands energy.
There’s been so much to soak in. On top of the PhD program, the whole ‘apprenticeship’ of making this initial ‘academic cabinet” and learning the rules and language of academia has been a learning curve. There are moments when I think I get it a little better, there are other times I’m as blur as ever
Two little episodes was encouraging at the American Academy of Religion (AAR) Meeting. Both were with senior professors over coffee. What I appreciated was the reconfiguration of what this ‘apprenticeship’ means for my own journey, and how I need to keep the focus on what is before me. After coming back from this long trip, there’s still so much I haven’t processed yet. It’s pretty overwhelming, but rewarding nonetheless.
I recall how one of them strongly agreed my own ‘another project’ file where the loads of interesting ideas can be parked there for future work. My mind is often on overdrive while reading, so it’s easy to get distracted and lose focus. One of the key aspects of this apprenticeship is focus and getting the work done. It’s about discipline more than brilliance. There’s a time for everything, I suppose. There would be moments of enlightenment but the hard work of research, tracking details, and reigning in my wild thoughts is part of the whole journey.
Indeed, before I can run, I’m still taking baby steps, walking in small spurts with occasionally dashes!
* * *
The life outside of the PhD journey is equally intense. Time is speeding by in lightening speed as the children go to school, participate in some church activities, and we have some time to ourselves.
Advent is a good season, as it’s like the Lent where the four weeks build up to a climax. It provides a way of reorienting one’s life. I was a little surprised to see Advent candles lit in the Institute coffee area this week. The kids are also plugged into the season with reading material and chocolates! One per day!
Snow hasn’t come. Gareth was hoping to have some for the school ‘Winter Walk’ later in the evening. Looks like, we’ll have a cold and wet evening instead. I heard from my Norwegian friends that last year it was already snowing this time. It’s windy and wet now, so the weather is unpredictable indeed.
We’re getting ready for Anja’s baptism this Sunday, so it’s a little milestone for Anja and the whole family. The briefing yesterday was a good introduction deeper into Christianity in Norway through the lens of a local congregation and the State church overall. What I appreciated is the fact that, the Church is adapting to the changing culture and demands placed upon her. On a personal note, my mind was led to think about the different life stages Anja will walk through, and what is our role as parents and the supportive role faith communities play in her adventures.
Baptism on one hand highlights Anja’s welcome as a ‘child of God’, on the other, somehow I was also thinking about her as a ‘citizen of the kingdom of God’. This first image clearly more familial, the second political.
These two metaphors conveys a whole series of concepts and dimensions which will be unpacked in days to come. The nurturing aspect is foundational no doubt, but the wider ‘political’ dimension is one perhaps not so comfortable for many, and yet it’s part and parcel of daily life more often than we think it is.
When we were getting our ‘personal number’ to settle into life in Norway, the nurturing aspect that related to the wider society we live in was only really possible when the ‘initiation’ was completed.
of course life has many other spheres, and now with everyone awake. It’s the beginning of breakfast time, and a pause on the return of my blogging