Dear Pope Francis,
My school year is over, and it’s been crazy one. There’s been a lot of new book knowledge an even more new personal insights. In fact, I was hazard a guess that there have been more personal insights this year than ever before. This is very exciting, but it also means that I need time to figure out what exactly I learned from the insight and what it means for my life. When I don’t take time to do this, I feel anxious and overwhelmed by everything in my head.
I find that studying theology requires a unique brand of self-care. Not only do I need to unwind from the stress of finishing papers and readings, but I need time to process and appropriate what I’ve learning in class, and from my personal life. Most importantly I am discovering how imperative it is to take care of my soul by finding those things that genuinely feed me and give me life. That is going to look different for everyone.
For me, quite often, this kind of soul care is taking my notebook and my favourite pen (or two – in case the first one runs out) and going for a walk. I find a place to sit, maybe in a coffee shop or on a bench or anywhere that looks suitably comfortable, and pour out everything onto the page. Today, that’s a letter to you, sometimes it’s fiction, other times it’s prayer, and sometimes it’s just dumping all of the details that have been floating around in my head (like dialogue or character traits). With this kind of soul care, it doesn’t matter what I write, the result is the same: there is a fresh, light feeling in my chest and my head is refreshingly empty. I feel like I’m a real human being again and not a ball of stress and pent up thoughts. It’s a fantastic feeling.
In some ways writing like this is like going on a mini retreat, even though I’m typically in a high traffic area. Writing allows me to shut out the world, even for an hour, and figure out what I’m thinking. This reminds me of the times that Jesus went out into the desert or off by himself to pray. I can imagine him wandering around and thinking, trying to sort what his Father wanted, and recharging for the next round of ministry. Writing lets me wander, both physically and mentally, and to be alone with my thoughts. It also lets me share those thoughts, if I chose to do so, in a way that is meaningful. I think that’s pretty cool.