I haven’t been writing much recently, in part because I have Moomin and had the dissertation to distract me. I also haven’t been writing much because I haven’t had a strong sense of the goal or purpose of this project, and I’ve spent long enough in academia that I don’t much like writing without an organized purpose. Over the past few days, though, I have been pondering re-opening it in order to provide some structure for something I have been thinking about, and this morning’s homily on St. Francis (today was the ordination anniversary of the priest in charge of the seminary where I’ve been teaching Latin) encouraged me.
So, here are the goals: Simplicity. Humility. Fortitude. Detachment. Charity. Yes– basic Christian virtues, all things lacking in my life, both in ‘real life’ and in my work. Some of these come from financial necessity; some come from wanting to separate myself from a consumer culture that is contrary to both Christian Freedom and the responsible stewardship of creation. Humility and Fortitude (not to mention detachment) are useful virtues for any academic pondering the job market these days.
You would think that if I were going to foster simplicity in my life, giving up blogging entirely would be the more useful choice, but after twenty-four years in school I can hardly do anything without writing about it. I also want to keep myself both honest and thoughtful in the process. It’s nice to think someone might find the journey helpful, but then again– Humility! I shouldn’t expect anyone to read this much at all. I plan to post at least once a week, however, nevertheless.
To close, a few thoughts on some of the virtues I listed above:
Simplicity seems fairly clear. Like detachment, it suggests a distance from the constant manufactured needs that one encounters every day, and to a certain extent, that is exactly what I meant. What use have I for an iPad? However, I also refer to an emotional simplicity (and detachment)– distancing myself from the constant need for distraction, for updated news, for constant access, and through this, reclaiming my time and my focus. If I lived in a different religious and cultural milieu, I might call this “mindfulness.”
I’ve read a few books on minimalism as a life style, and that’s not really what I mean by simplicity. I’m not interested in reducing my library to ebooks on a Kindle, or wearing only one color. Besides, I have a nine month old. That said, the more I can reduce the amount that I have to dust (or we have to move), the better.
“My yoke is easy, and my burden is light” was the focus of the homily this morning. Ten years since my baptism, and while I’ve experienced many blessings in my light, I can’t say that those words have ever rung true. None of us are promised tomorrow, and I’ll not look back on my life wishing I’d spent more time wishing for a new purse or hitting “refresh” on Facebook.
It is time to set out into the deep water.