29 February 2012

Looking forward to going on retreat

It feels like a very long time ago that Matthijs and I went on vacation. Except for our weekend in Groningen last October, our last vacation together was in July (!!) when we went to the Society of Biblical Literature conference in London. And that was a bit too full of lectures and meetings to be a super restful vacation. Matthijs did go away to Birmingham last September, but that was also a full trip: a conference with an extra day added on to go sightseeing.

We did go on vacation to Canada last December - both of us worn out and ready to rest and relax (and be spoiled by my mother). But when we arrived, my mother's health started spiralling drastically downward. Within a few days, I had taken over cooking and cleaning, and I started spending a lot of time at doctor's offices and hospitals - and I was processing the possibility that there was something seriously wrong with my mother's health. The rest Matthijs and I had been hoping for - and new adventures with each other - proved unattainable. Instead, we had to search for enough energy to face with courage the new situation in the family.

Although I have had the freedom to work less in the last while, so as to have time both to mourn and rest, rest and relaxation both still sound very appealing. Matthijs has had less time to rest since coming back from Canada, and I can sense that he really misses not having had a real vacation in the last while. When his work offered to send him on retreat at a monastery, it immediately appealed to him. The only problem is that it feels like we've been away from each other a lot these last few months, and another week away just seemed too much. He spent a lot of time thinking about it and finally chose to decline - choosing instead to stay home for me. When he wondered to me whether or not his final decision was a good one, I impulsively said that the solution would be that I go along, something that had never occurred to either of us earlier. The thought immediately resonated with both of us, and the next day Matthijs called and made arrangements for us to go.

And I'm really looking forward to going. I couldn't simply just say twenty times over how much I'm looking forward to it, as that would be a bit dull to read. So, instead I tried to explain a bit of the how and why I'm longing for this. But what I really want to say is simple. I'm really, really looking forward to going on retreat together (in less than 3 weeks!).

23 February 2012

My favourite mom pictures

On the day before the funeral visitation for my mom, my family and I went through all our pictures at home, searching for ones that would help people see and remember my mom as she was.

There were two that were my favourites. The first is one I'm familiar with - the wedding picture of my mom and dad, crammed into the back of an auto, incredibly happy. I saw that picture frequently enough growing up, and I felt special for having two beautiful parents who clearly loved each other deeply.

The second is one I had never seen before: one of the many pictures taken of her with the grandchildren. They are playing together, and before the beginning of their pretend meal, they stop to pray. I'm not sure how the picture got taken but it captures two things I love about my mom. She loved the grandchildren and delighted in helping them play. And secondly, she deeply hoped and prayed that her children and grandchildren would love God as much as she did.

21 February 2012

Opera with family

This week marks the fortieth wedding anniversary of my in-laws. Yay!

To celebrate we went out together as a family (in Zwolle). First we ate out, and then we went to the opera (La Traviata). It was a delightful evening, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

I do have to admit that I find it odd to go out to the opera with family, though. I've been to the opera a couple of times in my life, including once with Matthijs (when we were on our honeymoon). Operas just weren't part of my normal world growing up (nobody I knew even listened to operas, let alone watched them!). My own experience with opera hasn't necessarily made me appreciative of opera cds, but watching operas lives is something I do enjoy: operas nowadays have quite a bit of theatrical elements in them, and the presence of subtitles makes them much more understandable.

After everything that has happened these last months in my own family, it is impossible not to have that colour the celebration of this weekend. While it makes me miss my own family and feel my family's loss more strongly, it also makes me treasure more the family I have been given here in the Netherlands.

09 February 2012

A crazy, wonderful week

Sitting on the couch behind the computer (and with Jerry) helps me to realize what a crazy, wonderful week it has been thus far. It's also the first real slow moment of this week.

I've been spending all this past week at a conference in Leiden: Biblical Scholarship and Humanities Computing. I'm surrrounded by people who not only understand what I am trying to do with my dissertation project (structural/discourse analysis in the book of Ezekiel) but are also asking similar questions and are as at least as excited about this kind of work as I am. It's been great to participate in the project: wonder with others, get new ideas and inspiration, and be able to network with others.

But it's also been crazy tiring - from 10.00-12.00 we have speakers, 12.15-13.15 is lunch together, and from 13.30-17.00 we have organized group discussions. Monday evening there was a wine and cheese party, Tuesday evening there was dinner on a boat (home at 22.30!), and Wednesday evening we had dinner at a sponsoring organisation (home at 22.00). Outside of the lectures and official discussions, we still continue to talk about Bible and computer stuff. It's a lot to process - and even if there's only fifty of us, it's still a lot of people for me to be around so much of the time!

As my ideas start getting more worked out, I'll hopefully write more about them - although possibly not here, but on my "academic" blog (www.brendasbiblioblog.wordpress.com). I've been doing a poor job of updating that blog so hopefully all the inspirtation and ideas of this past week will be a good incentive to work harder on being more proactive in interacting with other scholars.