On the day of Paul’s unbirthday, there was one bitter disappointment. Stopping at the mailbox that evening, we slit open the envelope from Powell Butte Charter School in which was enclosed a rejection. Paul’s style of teaching would have really worked at that school. Although I was unsure whether Paul should accept the job, I was offended that it wasn’t offered.

We’re beginning to wonder … we’re in a small town, we know people, we have connections – we have all that is necessary for someone to get his foot in the door. Is it that the good ol’ boys’ club is just too tight to include us? Or has Paul been blacklisted for some unknown, unfathomable reason? Who knows? But it is tempting to surmise that Prineville does not value us. Perhaps it’s time to shake the dust off our feet and move on?

I hope that by the time we go, I’ll feel better about it. I hope this bitter feeling goes away. My mother-in-law reminded me that perhaps it has nothing to do with Prineville or good ol’ boys or being blacklisted and has more to do with a calling in another direction. Like looking at an optical illusion, I have to squint my mind to see it the other way. When I stare at it long enough, a new picture emerges in which pursuing the wilder paths of the unknown instead of gaining a school job bears the mark of destiny instead of despair. But I have to squint my mind to see it that way. Perhaps it will come more natural to me with practice.

Another job possibility came in the form of a 6th grade position at a Christian school. Paul knew people who worked there and they invited him to apply. Many aspects of the position welcomed him – the colleagues, the age group, and the stability. It was so nice to be wanted. But much of the benefit of working at a Christian school is free tuition for your kids – a benefit we’re not interested in taking advantage. If I had taken the part-time position at the high school, my half-time salary would have almost equaled Paul’s full time salary at the Christian school.

Paul decided to take his chances and declined to interview.

Thus, Paul leaves tomorrow without many financial prospects upon his return. Some choices were made without us; some were made by us. Such is life. Tonight, Paul and I will trek over Mt. Hood with the little ones to send him off on the airplane tomorrow. And then, the barren waste of six weeks without Paul lies vast and still and waiting for me to cross it. I have plans to convert that barren waste into a green valley of accomplishments.

We’ll see.