Academia seems to be doing a bit of a comeback in my life and I am very pleased with it. I don't want to say things had become stagnant but I was missing some sort of a forward momentum in my life and the solution has come from a place as unexpected as it is expected - the academic world.
I have kept quiet about it until now as I wasn't sure this thing was going to work out well but now it's safe for me to tell about it - I decided to apply for the Doctor of Ministry program which will start in Newbold this spring. It's actually Andrews University program but they're cooperating with Newbold and all the studying will take place here in Europe (which is good as I am not exactly the biggest fan of America). I agonised over this decision for a while but then decided to give it a go. I wasn't sure at all I would be accepted because I wrote the required essays while on sick leave in March which means their quality was far below my average. I was not in a good shape. And then followed 1,5 months of silence which in the end I interpreted as not being accepted. But late on Monday night I received a glorious accepteance letter from Andrews. Which means my first classes will start in Newbold in three weeks time. Whooooop! Just the thought of being back to Newbold campus - even for a couple of weeks at a time - makes my heart so very glad. And I know some of Newbold lecturers will be teaching me which will make the whole thing even more special to me. Dr A. N. will be teaching, for example. And she has been waiting for my acceptance letter with almost as eagerly as I have. I told her yesterday I will be sitting in the first row in the classroom when she's lecturing, a student as eager as she ever saw! I get shivers when I think of it. :)
It's time for me to go back to school.
And it's funny, now that I think of it. I will finish my own lecturing for Newbold on May 8th when my Greek students take their final exam. And I will be flying to Newbold as a student on May 18th. Tell me about perfect timing.
And another thing. I have been sort of picked up by a very interesting organisation called Christians for Biblical Equality. They will have an international conference in Helsinki this coming August and I understood they were looking for someone from the Adventist church who could present there. They asked our former Division president who has been advocating gender equality in our church for a long time, but he couldn't go. So somehow - not quite sure how - they ended up contacting me. And now I have been in touch with them over the past months and have been scheduled to speak at that conference in Helsinki. I know it's not difficult to Google people these days, and we all do it, but I was still a bit surprised when they discovered my Diversity Lecture which I gave in Newbold some three (!) years ago and which is up on YouTube. And that's all about gender issue (from a linguistic viewpoint but still). So now the president of CBE has asked to have a private dinner with me in Helsinki as she wants to discuss a possibility of my contribution to a book they are writing. Very gracefully I accepted her dinner invitation. :) Whatever the outcome, I will need to do some serious research and presentation writing when in Newbold. Again I have to admit that the timing is perfect - there's no way I could consider participating in such projects if I didn't have the access to Newbold library every now and then.
So things have got moving again and I am very excited. It's an academic comeback!
Classical music has totally taken over. In my last singing class we watched Joice DiDonato with my teacher. Now this is on repeat.
|Under the palm tree|
The last weekend was awesome. I had been in touch with Dr L. T. for some two years, inviting him to Estonia. He could never find the time to come so I kept asking again and again, and when I got tired I took a break and then asked him again. In the end he told me our story was looking more and more like the story of poor widow and unjust judge (I laughed out loud when I read that email), so he decided it was time for him to come. My persistence had paid off. I was so very excited, can you believe it - Dr L. T., The Legend himself would come! I knew I could not properly explain to others why it would mean so much to me that he'd come. People would have needed to go to Newbold and would have had to sit at his feet for three years in order to understand. In any case, I was impatiently looking forward to his visit. I counted weeks, and then days. Until the day dawned. April 13. There was a real mess with flights on that day so in the evening, when I was in the airport, waiting for him, learning that the previous flights had been canceled and no-one knew when his plane would land or whether it would land at all that evening, I felt panic rising in me. It can't be happening, it can't, I kept repeating to myself, he has to come, all needs to go well after so much waiting! And indeed he finally landed, some 1,5 hours late but that was a small matter compared to my joy of seeing him again.
What followed was a lot of hard work - getting to bed way too late and waking up way too early - but I didn't mind any of it: I translated the whole weekend until my brain ached, but I didn't want to let anyone else translate him either haha! He preached and then taught a seminar on Genesis, and it all brought back the sweet Newbold feeling - what it was like to learn real theology, the kind that would make your view a littel wider and your world a little bigger. There's so much terrible theology out there, the kind that makes people's vision turn into a tunnel vision, and that makes them suspicious and unkind, and at times I get so terribly tired of it. Then it feels like a breath of fresh air - to do serious exegesis, to dig deep into the text and find a beautiful and broad world in there. Dr T. did his magic and the good ole Genesis text was suddenly all new and thrilling! People sat with their eyes and mouths open in astonishment. Oh, wow, oh, wow.
On Saturday night when it was almost time to go to sleep, Dr. L. T. agreed to come to a cafe for a cup of tea, and again a miracle happened. He asked me how my latest vacation had gone, and I couldn't help but tell him why I had really needed that break. And why stuff keeps me up at night. And what the years after returning from Newbold five years ago have really been like. How much struggle and heart ache I've seen. I felt almost sorry for him because I quite literally poured my heart out, but he turned into a pastor right away and listened to me very kindly. Gave me some pastoral advice which I was so grateful for. Tea and cake also helped. Later, when I walked him back to his hotel through the old town, there was so much gratitude in my heart I didn't quite know what to do with it.
People like Dr. T. give me hope and courage. Restore my faith in humanity.
I don't remember what I told you about my newly found interest in music. I never go back to read my old blog posts but I remember saying some things about the concerts and the practising of my violin. Well, there are some rather lovely developments in this area which make me very glad. First, the singing classes which I take from the Music Academy. The Music Academy is like a wonderland to me, I know it wouldn't be like that if I actually had to study there on a daily basis, but just going there once a week and meeting all our famous conductors and pianists in the hallways give it such a mysterious and romantic flavour. I am always thrilled when I get to go there. And I am very glad to be able to study singing. The teacher is quite a character though. I remember the last class before my vacation/sick leave when I was so tired I couldn't get anything right. She would get quite angry and would be like, What's wrong with you today?! C'mon, let's try again! Don't stare at me, don't do this, don't do that! And I remember thinking to myself, heavens, and I pay for this. But yesterday I had the eighth class of this semester and suddenly something happened. I can't quite describe it but something clicked in my brain, a light bulb went on, and I suddenly got it. I get this, I get this, I thought to myself, ecstatically, I can actually sing, and I understand what the teacher pushes me to do! And the teacher was also very glad because she saw clearly that I had had a revelation. And she said, well, your 10 classes which you paid for will be over soon but I'll give you some extra classes just because I can see how much you want to study, and because you are making such rapid progress. I'd advise you to take singing seriously from now on, like, solo singing. I couldn't believe it. I walked away from the Academy, floating on air, grinning from ear to ear, wanting to tell every passer-by about my singing revolution. I mean, extra singing classes! How cool is that? I think if I were ever to take my third uni degree, it would have to be in music. Yup.
But then the magazine Music which I have started to read regularily and whose head editor I have spoken to. Well, the thing has developed as far as this - my first concert review will be published in Music in May. They sent me the concert ticket, the word count and off I went. The whole process went suspiciously smoothly, like, it took me some 1,5 hours to get the review on paper after the concert. The concert itself was lovely - gotta love Bach! - and the words sort of put themselves on paper, without me having to sweat at all. Then followed a month of silence and I had almost forgotten about the thing but just two days ago I got another email from the head editor with another concert/review offer. I am thrilled! I could do this for a living. :)
But it's not only classical music. Right now I am listening to Laura Mvula, every day, every day. She will give a concert in Tallinn in two weeks time (it's not my review concert though haha) and I need to get into shape by that time. My current favourites are Sing to the Moon and She. She's the Nina Simone of our days. Whoah.