**WARNING** This is totally a navel-gazing blog entry, and I’m not even all that ashamed about it. But if you’re OK with that, read on. **/WARNING**
Last Saturday I wrote a journal to myself about habits I needed to start weeding — e.g. whining and griping, worrying about productivity and time, worrying about the future, etc. I particularly urged myself to stop worrying about the future and stop obsessively looking for signs about what may be to come or what I ought to do next.
Go figure that that same night I would go to see Noche Flamenca at the theater and run into all kinds of people I knew in the most coincidental circumstances. I pulled out my phone to make a note, jokingly asking God (on my phone’s notepad — what a geek!) if this was supposed to be some kind of sign. Then throughout the performance I couldn’t stop thinking that old, annoying, terrifying thought that maybe I should be a scholar. (I hate that thought. Why won’t it take a hint and take a hike already?!) When I got home I wrote this stirring piece to myself and an imaginary audience:
[If it happens] it will happen according to God’s will, and He will give me the signal and the push. But I might as well stop forbidding myself the option. I keep waiting for something extraordinary to come along, something totally different and unexpected, like a call to the missions or some crazy thing. But it doesn’t have to be THAT crazy to be unexpected. Sometimes the most truly unexpected things are the very things we expected all along, but which end up being quite different from what we imagined.
The scholar-thought drove me crazy for the rest of the week, as it always has before and will continue to do until I finally quash it either through fulfilling it or opting for something clearly better. I have an enduring attraction to the idea of furthering my studies (especially in German literature — oh! my love!), alongside a kind of dread and anxiety, or, perhaps better put, a feeling of consternation. No, I think. That can’t be right. It’s so worldly. It’s so selfish. I want it for selfish reasons and not for godly or charitable reasons. How can I keep avoiding Real Life Out There? (What that even means, remains to be seen.)
But last evening during class, another thought occurred to me. It came as a question: Are you saying “no no and no” to the university life because you really feel called to live a “selfless” and “simple” life and help others in a more obviously charitable way a la Mother Teresa, or because your pride tells you it’s the holier and more important thing for such a holy and important person as yourself to do? I realized that perhaps my vision of what it means to live a simple life, a hidden life, a life for God, is probably too narrow and too influenced by stereotypes. And perhaps I just fear the inevitable spiritual trials that must come from trying one’s best to live a simple, faithful, and holy life in the midst of the “worldly” university. If academia is as spiritually bankrupt (hmmm, or maybe rotten) as I often imagine it to be, then it needs the witness of a person of faith all the more. This chick right here is hardly up to the task — but God qualifies the called, does He not?
I still have much to discern, as well as much consternation and fear to surrender, but at least I can start to see how becoming a scholar might not be the most selfish thing in the world. After all, it was just last Sunday that we heard in the second reading: “Now the body is not a single part but many. If a foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,’ it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.” — 1 Cor 12:14-18