Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Magis and the Mental Preparation
Weather-wise, it was an odd week in DC. We had our 5.9 earthquake last Tuesday. I was in a Starbucks reading, and it went from a small tremor, to, Nope, the whole building is shaking – this is definitely an earthquake! Everything was fine, apartment was fine. Somehow, no earthquakes in an entire summer in California, but arrived back in DC just in time for one. Then we had Tropical Storm Irene over the weekend. I did do a run during it (when it was just pouring rain -- no severe wind at that point): I was supposed to do a tempo run, but I figured just being out there was good enough. Also kind of exhilarating – no one else was out there, and it was just me and the rain. Here is to a much calmer week, weather-wise.
Monday was my first day of school. Year 2 of the PhD program, year 2 being a TA, the semester I take my PhD comps. I love school very much, and did a lot this weekend to prepare mentally for the start of the new academic year.
I am a product of a Jesuit education. (The Society of Jesus, was founded in 1540 by St. Ignatius of Loyola – a Catholic order). I received my BA from Holy Cross, and I absolutely know that the Jesuits and their educational system have had a major impact in my life: in academia and beyond. They have informed my faith, my thinking, and in some ways, have informed how I try to go out and live each day. In 2006, I was studying there, and a mentor gave me a book to read during summer training called Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way. I read it the weekend before school started, and loved it. I found it to be a good reflective work, and to help ground me as I prepared to start the new year. That was 2005. Every August since then, I have re-read that book before school started, and that was what I did tonight.
There are many phrases and ideas associated with Jesuit spirituality and Jesuit education, but one of my favorites is the idea of magis (Latin for “the more”). Part of Jesuit spirituality is dealing with an ever-present tension. And the idea of magis – seeking more, not yet satisfied with your work, I think, can be motivating. Our work is not yet done, the battle has yet to be won (St. Ignatius, the founder, wanted to be a soldier for Christ), and we should keep going onward. We should not be content – we should keep striving to better ourselves and work to better the world around us. These are not easy challenges, but with the prospect of starting something anew again, there is hope to seek more again.
Sunday was a day of preparing myself. I went on a long run, I read, I went to church and prayed for a good start to the year. I reflected on this book, and hoped yet again to become a contemplative in action – reflective but in motion. I found a sense of peace – the book was waiting for me after a year of being put away. It is time for the new season to start.