We go for many winters in a row with no snow, and then — bam! blast! crunch! — we feel like we’re living in the Arctic Circle. Actually, the Arctic Circle feels like Washington used to feel, rather warm with significant ice melt — the evidence of global climate change, perhaps, or just the ebb and flow of weather cycles that go well beyond human memory.
Disruption to our lives at Trinity and throughout the Washington region seems to occur more frequently this winter with too much snow — a very large storm predicted for the upcoming weekend, yet again! — and even tonight on campus, a power outage that seemed like “one more thing” in a string of gremlins trying to thwart our best efforts to teach and learn. Yet, the disruptions, themselves, are teachable moments. Learning to cope with the inconvenience and frustration of plans gone awry is a life skill we all need to work on each day.
When I’m frustrated by the myriad things that can go wrong on any given day at Trinity — my flashlight didn’t work tonight and I couldn’t find that box of batteries I thought was on my shelf — I think of how fortunate we are to have this wonderful community of students, faculty, staff, friends and colleagues. Our campus amenities are modest compared to many others, but our community life is vibrant, deeply caring and capable of expressing hope and joy each day. Other universities might envy the wonderful spirit of the Trinity community.
Missing batteries have been the least of the problems besetting the suffering people of Haiti. When we experience the minor disruptions to our lives here, we should also contemplate what it is that makes us impatient with the disruption — a class schedule set back, dinner plans cancelled, maybe a paper lost on a computer crash. Such inconveniences pale in comparison to the hardships of daily life for most people on this small planet. So, even while wishing for no more snow days, we should give thanks that we have classes to cancel and schedules to care about. Our very routine in academe is a rare and privileged gift among the citizens of the earth.
My gratitude to the hard-working staff and faculty of Trinity is great, especially those colleagues in Facilities Services and Public Safety who are outside in all of this bad weather trying to be sure that our roads and walkways are cleared and that our campus is safe. Thanks to our students for cooperating with faculty on make-up lessons and adapting schedules to the uncertain conditions.
This is the winter of our coping skills. When spring returns, we will enjoy it even more!