Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Taken Apart and Rebuilt

I have been in substantial remission for over a year, and I have begun to push a little on the frontiers of the delicate balance of activity and rest. For example, I have begun to work part of the day in the office where my children go to school (and where Eileen teaches). I am free to read, write, research, and build up my networks online, but I am also available as an "extra grown-up" who answers the phone and is available to lend a hand in whatever needs to be done. As time goes on, I expect that they will find more things for me to do, and I look forward to that.

It's a far cry from teaching college and graduate students and being chairman of the Theology department. But a new life is emerging in the years after my early retirement from active teaching. Anyone who has read my book (http://t.co/ddwYeqXknows that I'm making a lot of progress here. You know that the mountain that stood between my bed and the brown chair in my "living room office" was very difficult to climb, and involved a lot of stumbling. Coming to the school would seem like a bigger move, but it has been easier. Perhaps I am getting stronger.

I still find that writing uses up a great deal of energy. It is a natural medium for me, and yet I find it very draining. Still, I press on. I have an ardor to express myself, and to communicate the things that I experience and learn. The energy to shape words (whether writing or speaking) is like a force of nature in me. And like everything in my nature, it is ambivalent. It is the energy of seeking the truth, and of the desire to encourage others in the search for truth. But it is also the energy of a clown who craves laughter, an acrobat who hungers for applause; it comes, in part, from the vacuum inside me that is desperately insecure, that wants approval again and again, that wants to take the feeling of being appreciated, consume it, and demand more.

It is human to want to be appreciated. But for me this desire is swollen and throbbing and itching in a way that can never be scratched. Why is it that way? Original sin, genetic predisposition, the inherent psychological imbalance of an intelligent and creative person, and 49 years of personal experience--struggling, failing, suffering, being hurt, and above all lack of trust in God. There is this world of mistrust inside me, fortified with many weapons and many defenses, raging for no real reason.

I need to be taken apart and rebuilt. Sometimes it feels like this is what is happening to me. It is a project that takes time.

It is the work of the Holy Spirit. I try to work "with Him," but above all I have to surrender my self to His work. He knows what needs to be accomplished.