26 March 2013


After twenty-five years of priesthood, I found myself praying poorly, living somewhat isolated from other people, and very much preoccupied with burning issues. Everyone was saying that I was doing well, but something inside of me was telling me that my success was putting my own soul in danger. I began to ask myself whether my lack of contemplative prayer, my loneliness, and my constantly changing involvement in what seemed most urgent were signs that the Spirit was gradually being suppressed. It was very hard for me to see clearly, and though I never spoke about hell or only jokingly so, I woke up one day with the realization that I was living in a very dark place and that the term "burnout" was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death.- Henri J. M. Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus, page 20
Nouwen put succinctly into words exactly what I have been feeling this semester. I am exhausted -- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. I am tired of feeling so much pressure from the academic arena to "succeed." I am tired of trying to impress others and of trying to appear "brilliant" or "profound."

I'm hanging my hat up and resigning from the lifestyle academia thrusts upon me. It's not worth gaining the whole world if I lose my soul in the process.

"Giving up" has such a negative connotation in my American culture. It's often analogous with defeat and failure, but maybe it shouldn't be. Surrendering is not always a bad thing.

Sometimes raising that white flag is actually the bravest thing you can do. 

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