A few days ago, I received an email from the professor of one of the classes I’ll be starting tomorrow for the new semester. In it, he mentioned the optimism present as we refer to the second half of the school year as “spring semester.” In Holland, Michigan, it feels like spring usually starts during the last week of classes at the end of April, but we peer through the snow at the beginning of January and the windy grayness of the earth and sky during February and the muddy slush of March and in April we long for the tulips to blossom just in time for the festival named after them. We call this time from January to the first days of May “spring semester” because we know that spring will someday come, and we color the entirety of the semester in the hope and waiting for the day we see the tip tops of the blades of grass as they begin to break through the snow that lost its wonder and freshness months ago.
For me, this particular spring semester is marked by the knowledge that it is the beginning of a year of lasts, as I graduate this December. My last Spring Fling, my last time singing at the Gathering, my last Dance Marathon, and even my last required religion classes all loom before me, serving as reminders not to take this time for granted. And yet, here I sit, the day before classes, holed up in my house trying to avoid enduring walking or driving in the cold, snowy ice land outside the windows of my cottage. I have spent much of the last month talking and thinking about what my life may be like in less than a year, after I have graduated from Hope and potentially moved states away to a job or a new school with new people and new experiences and new things to love. It seems that I am always looking forward, although I know that there is so much more that I should be paying attention to in the present.
This forward-thinking mindset drives much of the way I live my life; while it is not necessarily a bad thing, I know that I have missed out on some things because I was too busy worrying about whatever I had to do next, too worried about the next morning’s 5:45 a.m. wake up call to prepare for the coming tasks, or too consumed by a desire to sit alone and revel in my selfishness “for once” than to do whatever my friends or family wanted to do. I am a type A personality, a planner, a (dare I say it) responsibility junkie. It seems I will never stop looking forward, and I think in some ways that is okay, but in other ways, I know that this year of my life is one that I cannot let slip away without taking advantage of the opportunities that life and Hope and the Lord provide to me.
While I am not ignorant of the anticipatory tendencies that have engrained themselves into my lifestyle, I am hopeful that the next eleven months will be spent in ways that will cause me to remember them with the sentiment that I would not have rather spent them any differently. As we start the semester with a collective hopeful optimism for the advent of spring, I am beginning it with a desire to spend it in ways that make the most of the opportunities and circumstances with which the Lord has blessed me. I pray that, wherever you are in life, you may find yourself electing to spend this season living in this way as well.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full – pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
— Luke 6:38 (NLT)