The madness that is March

Maria Niechwiadowicz


Looked at my calendar this morning, I couldn’t help but gasp! Where did March go? Surely it can’t be Palm Sunday already. Easter is only a week away? Yikes!

In many ways, March has seemed to be an infinitely long month. Though I only began classes less than a month ago, I feel like the semester should be halfway over. Isn’t it midterms yet?

In all honesty, it has been a rocky start to the spring semester. The past 3 weeks have been classified by changing schedules, added courses, spontaneous meetings, and unexpected announcements. Our students are busier than ever, which is affecting the way that we, as foreign teachers, interact and plan for our students.

The weather has seemed to reflect this attitude…sunny and skirt-wearing weather one day, wind and slushy rain the next.

Needless to say, it has been hard to settle in and focus. My mood has been as changing as my schedule and the schizophrenic weather in Guyuan. Along with Lenten devotions, I feel like I have gone from a state of fulfillment and joy to confession and surrendering on a weekly basis.

I would like to share a poem with you that I wrote a few weeks ago. Anyone who has lived abroad will understand the sentiment that comes with having a “(insert country) day.”

It has been a day
a day that began in love
and the sharing of blissful words across the sea
and hot coffee.
But a day that quickly turned sour
just because
that’s life I guess.
And it’s normal
to have a China day.
It was a day that my walk was long,
quick in pace as I listened to my book
but didn’t hear a word.
It was day where my sprints were hard,
hard enough to send my lungs pounding
gasping for air.
It was day that I needed that piece of dark chocolate
>despite taking the vow of the fast.
It was a day that I knew cooking
(which normally brings joy)
would turn into a rushed and unsatisfactory mess.
It was a day that I needed to walk to the baozi place
and fill my stomach with those soft white orbs
stuffed with juicy meat
and dipped in spicy vinegar.
It was a day that I needed to be alone
but also needed company.
It was a day that I needed to breath
         in and out         in and out         in and out
and hear the birds sing.
It was a day that one little thing
made a huge impact on my mood.
It was a day that I felt angry at this place and its circumstances
a day that I felt confused about this place and its circumstances
a day of realization
a day when anger turned to shame
and confusion turned to guilt.
A day that I felt I had slipped back into the hole I had climbed out of.
But with the breathing and the baozi
and the fresh air and the walking to aimless words
and the bitter sweetness of that chocolate,
Looking towards the sky
peace is sustained
and the world continues to move
and I’m not so angry at China anymore
I’m not so confused about its circumstances.
It was just another China day.

It is in the shouts of “Hosanna” that we say today that I give praise for these “China Days.” I give praise because it feels good to cry and let out emotions I don’t understand. I give praise because these moments bring insight, self-understanding, and humility.  I give praise because these moments remind me to kneel before the feet of Jesus in surrender. I give praise because I am weak. I am so terribly weak, but I am given endurance and strength through Christ.

March will disappear this week and vanquish with Christ’s death on the cross. But as promised, Christ will arise and April will bloom, bringing new life and a chance for renewal!

Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.      

 -Isaiah 53:4-6

I ask for prayers this week as I am able to celebrate and share the story of Easter with my students. I pray that the Lord will give me the words, appropriate to this context. And I pray that my students may receive this story with respect and an open mind.