What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.C. S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
This past year or so since I graduated with my BA in Classics has been very strange. Certainly covid contributed to its strangeness, but there were other things that compounded the strangeness.
I had been planning to go straight from my undergraduate to a masters degree in theology. All the classes would be online, and the community experience would of course be extraordinarily lacking. However, it was a conversation I had with someone about the future viability of my research interests that made me come screeching to a halt in this plan, causing me to withdraw my application a week before classes were to start.
Then I got a job working at a pharmacy, which was really nice, because I had some money for the first time since I graduated high school. I was working through treatment (I think a more accurate term might be management) for my mental health and starting to feel stable, more confident in myself, and a lot less anxious than I had in a very long time. But throughout this time, I kept questioning the decision I had made to not go to graduate school.
Of course I didn’t regret choosing to avoid online classes, but I missed the environment where I had felt so comfortable and where I had found my closest friends. At the same time, I didn’t want to go back just because I missed chapel and my friends. I didn’t have a viable research interest (the history and development of the typikon, while interesting to me, is not exactly the stuff of tenure).
Then the papers came.
The paper ideas started coming in droves. I would pick up the Iliad and suddenly feel that I needed to write a paper about vocation versus identity through action or inaction in the Iliad using Achilles as a case study (and maybe throwing in Euripides because let’s face it the guy was a genius). This paper started as a very specific idea frantically scribbled down before bed and turned into a complex, multilayered set of thoughts that I’m still figuring out. I also wanted to write a paper about the whole process of Patroklos’ death, which is quite possibly my favorite scene in the Iliad (followed or preceded by Hector and Andromache, I’m not sure).
Finally I got to the point where I found the thesis idea that I want to write about an pursue for my graduate work. I’m not going to name it specifically here, because unfortunately academic paranoia is usually justified, but it is very generally about Orthodoxy and mental health. I am so excited to write it, and to be honest, even if it doesn’t go anywhere it will be worth doing.
I suppose this is a really long-winded way of saying God willing I will be actually starting grad school in the fall. I’m still not quite sure exactly how I’ll manage all the details, but as my spiritual father once pointed out to me, God has not let me down yet. I am thankful for my “gap year,” and I am thankful that all my saints have found me a way to go. (I have a posse – St. Catherine of course, St. Xenia of Petersburg, St. Phanourios, St. Porphyrios of Kavsokalyvia, St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco, and most recently St. Paisios of the Holy Mountain.) Without them I’d very much still be lost.
-Odds & Ends-
Video explaining the St. Birgitta stitch pictured above (also Morgan Donner is wonderful)
Video Recording of the Akathist to St. Porphyrios (in Greek)
Onesimus, the blog of Dr. Bill Black, an OCMC missionary serving in Nairobi who I had the great honor of meeting when he spoke at a retreat hosted by the missions committee at my college (please pray for him and his work, and if you are interested and/or able to, please go here to support him financially)
I just finished this book about St. Paisios (I know I’m a little late to the bandwagon on it, but it really did come into my life at the right time). A couple of my dearest friends have such a good relationship with him, and I am so glad that I started having my own relationship with him as well.
Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger has completely disillusioned me of the notion I’ve had since high school that Salinger is terrible. He is not.