Reflections on leaving the cottage-by-the-sea

by Anna Blanch on March 16, 2012

I went for a slow, ambling walk around St Andrews last night. It was the first time I really gave much thought about the fact that my time in the cottage-by-the-sea is at an end. What a home it has been. Last night was the first night I’ve been in St Andrews in almost two years where I haven’t curled up in my lovely large bed and been thankful for the cosy home I’ve been fortunate to have made. I will remember the two years in this home with a wry and heartfelt smile. I have made many many memories and am joyful in thinking of the north sea out my kitchen windows. The cottage was an answer to prayer and for that I will always be grateful.

I fear that leaving the cottage-by-the-sea is going to mean the blog is going to get a little ‘dear diary’ for a while.

If that image bothers you, maybe just think of it as an exercise in “lived theology.”

For theology to have any truth, and any relevance, it must be lived theology, but that is kind of beside the point for the time being.

In the last 24 hours I’ve been asked almost a dozen times how I feel about the travel, Australia, leaving the cottage,and leaving St Andrews. To be honest, I don’t really have an answer. I’m in work mode right now, scrambling to make preparations, to pack, to deal with multiple dental appointments (root canal is certainly not my idea of a productivity boosting exercise), and to try and write my thesis somewhere in the midst of it all. I fear my thesis has somehow seemed the least pressing, though the very thought of it fills me with fear, trepidation and all sorts of anxiety. It is in fact quite pressing, but nevertheless, things have been somewhat hectic.

The next few months will test my mettle in terms of living a fairly itinerant academic life. I will be in transition seeking to understand what it means to not be an expat for the first time in five years. I’ll be making a home with my younger sister in a city I’ve never lived in before (for more on that adventure, see the Sisters in the Sun Project). I will be able to see family that I’ve not been living within in 6000 miles of for five long years. I will see the sun more often than I will not (and how my heart will rejoice). I will be reunited with boxes and boxes of books and things I’ve barely laid eyes on for five years and I may well ask why I bothered to hold onto them at all.I will be seeking to finish off the drafts of my final two chapters and enter a very arduous editing process.

I’ll not quite break my personal record of three continents in four weeks, but three continents in ten weeks is not exactly slouching when it comes to a pretty crazy schedule.

I may well reflect on the challenges of viewing your own culture as an outsider. I may reflect on my first impressions of a new church and thinking through what I’ve learned about church communities and the pros and cons of theological education.

Hopefully, my return to Scotland in less than two months will herald a full draft of my doctoral thesis. That will only happen with diligent, careful work and hopefully with the ability to work wherever, whenever!

In the meantime there will be many things about the burgh of St Andrews and the kingdom of Fife I will miss (and quite a few that I will not).

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