It’s late on a Monday night. I’ve already put in about twelve hours of work, two hours of homework, and I’ve managed to squeeze in a few hours of family time. Some Mondays I wake up and wonder, will I make it another week?
Life seemed much easier when we lived in bigger cities like Kearney and Lincoln. I wasn’t constantly grading essays, filling out the endless amount of paperwork that comes along with teaching, and I certainly wasn’t up until all hours of the night worrying about how I could teach more effectively. Though I was newly married, finishing school, and working as much as my schedule allowed, I managed to have more time and less worries. Ever since we’ve moved out to this small southwestern Nebraska town I’ve felt bombarded. I wonder how this can be. The town really is peaceful. Everything shuts down at five-thirty. There are only two options for grocery shopping. And I only have a short half-mile jaunt to my spot where I can sit and look out over hills covered in uncultivated grasses. I remember the first time I found this place. I had had a terrible day of school and was feeling like a worthless teacher. So I grabbed my dog, laced up my sneakers, and took off down the gravel road that runs near my house. I had never run that hilly road before, and though it was unfamiliar, I kept running until I reached the top. I leaned over to rest my hands on my knees so I could catch my breath. After a few seconds, I stood up straight and was greeted with the most beautiful view. I was looking out over the northern outskirts of Ogallala where hills roll and grasses sway calmly below a pink-orange sky. I stood there, looking out over the town for what seemed like hours. After awhile, I noticed that my breathing became slow and regular and I was aware that my chest was rising and falling in a natural rhythm. I looked down at my dog that had also grown peaceful during our time on the hill. He lay on the gravel road with his eyes closed, but his head was held up like he was meditating, the breeze blowing through his scruffy Terrier beard. As the sun sank below the hills, we turned to head back home and I felt a sense of peace come over me. It was the kind of peace that you feel only when you know you’ve experienced something beautiful and rare. I think it was then that I realized that even though my new life out here was going to be a whirlwind, I was okay.
As I head to bed and prepare for a busy week filled with choir concerts, meetings, football games, volleyball games, concession stand attending, homework, and the weekly “come to Jesus moments” we teachers seem to have with our students, I feel calm knowing that I have a place where I can go and breathe. I can run to the top of that hill and forget about all of my responsibilities even if it is only for ten minutes.