Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Senioritis, Nostalgia, and the Saeculum


Despite being a second year master’s student rather than a senior, I’ve definitely felt my fair share of “senioritis” in the last couple weeks. While reading and reviewing a book for class called Saeculum: Historyand Society in the Theology of St Augustine, I’ve been led to reflect on my senioritis in light of the histories and narratives I form about myself.  (not really what the book is about, but it  provoked some thoughts that led to other thoughts that…)

I do many things in life, both small and great, because I see how they can connect to my past and future. I may journal because I have done so regularly in the past and it provides me with a sense of continuity. I may work hard on a certain paper because I think I’ll need a recommendation from that professor, or because I know I’ll use the information I’m researching to understand something else.

I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I think I also need to step back sometimes and realize how important each moment is because of the presence of God in it, rather than because of its placement in the self-narrative I have in my head. My narrative can often be wrong.

As graduation approaches, I find I want to spend more and more time thinking about “how I got here and where I want to go” as I put on the tagline for this blog. It is perhaps fitting to spend time doing that regularly, and all the more so at transition points in my life. I often don't just reflect, though. I move through ideas and emotions because it feels good--perhaps because it makes me feel safe, and also because of narcissism. 

Basilica of the Sacred Heart
from across St. Mary's Lake
I love to daydream about future possibilities and nostalgically meditate on the past, but my life becomes more real when I set at least some basic limits on those activities and focus on seeing the good in front of me, on entering into the eternal as it exists in the temporal. I know that being in a new place and doing new things can be exciting and good, but the meat of life is found in prayer and human relationships. How often have I neglected those because I was emotionally living in memories of the past or dreams for the future? 

May God help me to live in Christ. As I ponder and discern God's calling on my life, may I do so in a way that orients me towards the love of God and neighbor rather than in a way that shortsightedly centers on self-love and deceptive escapism.