Champion of the everyday

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Young alumna’s challenge: cherish the days and the seasons

Brenton Stacey
Public relations officer
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia

Avondale’s Young Alumna of the Year finds meaning in the routine of the everyday despite a burgeoning career as an artist and speaker.

Joanna Darby is Avondale Alumni Association’s Young Alumna of the Year. Credit: Ashleigh Wrankmore.

Since graduating in 2006, Joanna Darby has worked as a teacher and as a lecturer, become a mother, presented exhibitions and spoken at camps, churches, conferences and conventions. Receiving the Gabe Reynaud Award at the Manifest Creative Arts Festival in 2011 recognised excellence in using the creative arts for ministry. “But I keep trying to figure out where I am and what exactly it is that I do,” she told staff members and students attending the Alumni and Graduation Forum on the Lake Macquarie campus, Wednesday (May 16).

Avondale Alumni Association president Pr Des Hills announced Joanna as the recipient of the award, presented to a member of the association aged 30 and under on the sixth anniversary of their graduation. It recognises commitment to Christian service and dedication to achieving personal goals.

Joanna adapted the biblical account of creation to illustrate how the everyday can obscure these goals. Let there be washing, Facebook, nappy changes and a cuppa with a friend, said Joanna. Let there be holidays, burnt toast, showers and sunscreen, and there was evening and morning. “It’s easy to look somewhere else, sometime else or at someone else,” said Joanna. “We just want to be on our way, but perhaps all this is the way.”

The message: God is in every day and God is in the everyday. “He doesn’t mind repetition,” said Joanna, referring to days and seasons. “He created it, and it was good.” The challenge: “When we fail to acknowledge the spiritual and the significant and the incredible in the everyday, we risk a sort of death, a death by boredom.”

Cherishing the everyday gives life meaning, said Joanna. “The ordinary. The conventional. The grind. The small places. The daily spaces. The evening. The morning. It all belongs to God and it’s all a gift from God.”

Earlier, Avondale College of Higher Education president Dr Ray Roennfeldt announced the graduation class officers for 2012. Co-presidents are Bachelor of Nursing student Jonathan Funes and Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Teaching student Emma Hanna.