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Weekly e-Gram for members and friends of Dublin Community Church

April 2, 2010

BREAK TIME

Back before the time when Spring Break meant “vacation away from home,” back in my school days… Spring Break meant just that… a “break,” not a vacation.

I seem to recall that my city schools took off Thursday, Good Friday, and then Monday and Tuesday after Easter. No one went to Florida or the coast. Probably the farthest anyone went was to visit Grandma.

Back then, the school year started in September and ended in June; and while there were some breaks in between, that is all they were – “breaks.” The destination was June. There was no down time in between, no vacations, no time off. It was a September-to-June world.

While I may lament the speed of today’s world and the constant interruptions and “clocking in” via Facebook and twittering and email, I have to admit that I like the way we view the school year these days. It begins in late August and ends in June, but in the meantime there are various times for taking a vacation and being refreshed. One does not have to just wait for June and July for that vacation.

I first experienced this alternate rhythm to the yearly calendar when teaching in Zambia many years ago. The beginning of the school year was January. We taught January to mid-April. We took a month off. Taught mid-May to mid-August. Took a month off. Taught mid-September to early December. We had a couple weeks of tests and then were off until mid January.

As a teacher it was a revelation. Teach for 90 days. Take off 30. Teach for 90 days. Take off 30. Students did not “forget” as much. Teachers did not have to go back and review as much. Teachers were never more than 90 days away from a break from the students, and the same went for students. They could shed us after 90 days too.

The school terms also conformed to the various seasons of the year in Zambia. Rainy season (definitely the correct term for THAT season). Sometimes known around our house as the Fungus Season. Then there was the cool season, with temperatures in the 50’s and clouds and no heat in the classrooms and I taught most of the time wearing a spring jacket and kept my hands in my pockets. And there was the hot season (Sept to Dec). This too was correctly named. We would take a break in the heat of the afternoon when temps reached 110. A few times it hit in the 120’s.

One Hot Season, I was assigned to teach one class of outdoor physical education. Teachers were expected to dress appropriately. No shorts or flip flops. Casual but dignified. I still had four classes of English each day and one of Phys. Ed. I would change to shorts and T-shirt and athletic shoes and go out to the soccer pitch or volleyball or basketball court. These were out back, carved out of the rough bush behind the school. But, after a week I discovered something. If I put my whistle around my neck, I looked like I was just about to take a phys. ed. class and the headmaster didn’t mind if I had on a jogging outfit. He assumed I was just in from or about to go to my next phys. ed. class out back.

Three months on and one month off. It was a different way of viewing the year for me. But if you think that sounds like a pretty simple year’s worth of work, you must remember that I taught at a boys’ boarding school. A teacher’s life was 24/7 with the classes and boarding situation. Teaching. Dorm duty. Cafeteria duty. Evening Prep (study time) duty, clubs and religious services.

Now my year is broken along the lines of the church calendar. This weekend means everything to me in terms of my faith. I will speak about it at the Maundy Thursday Service, Good Friday Cross Walk, and Easter Morning Worship Services. I will speak of the victory of Christ over the grave. This Holy Week marks my world. Every thing that comes before and after revolves around this one special week.

Peace, Rev. Bob Tussing

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