Word Asphyxiation

I will attempt to sum up the life of a seminarian in three words: books and papers. While that may be a gross oversimplification of what seminary is about, I do think it captures the essence of what my life is like as a seminary student (although I am tempted to add Greek translations and grammar). Everyday, I spend at least 4 hours reading. At least. And, on average, I have been writing 3 papers a week. Some of these are long (8-10 pages), others are short (3-4 pages). This may sound miserable to some of you, but to me, this is a good life. My job is essentially to read really smart people’s writings, then try to sound as smart as they do in my own writings. The latter is where the struggle exists.

Because I spend my life surrounded by words, they have almost become a part of me. I breathe them. I eat them. I dream about them. I wake up to them. A word is never just a word to me – there exists pages upon pages of scholarly work recounting the story behind this word. Simple Greek phrases draw the attention of upwards of 10 pages in English. My life is about words and how they fit together. This cause a problem. My whole life, much of my devotional life or my spirituality has been built around reading the Bible. But now I read the Bible all the time for school and even translate it. And after spending all day studying it and writing about it, I find it difficult to open it up again in the evening to read it some more. Essentially, I am drowning in words so much so that adding more words through Bible reading as a spiritual discipline, only compound the asphyxiation. And so I pray. Or participate in the divine office. Or I run. Or be quiet. Or still. Anything but surround myself with more words. Anything but take in more words than I can swallow. Once again, I am reminded of the evolution of one’s spirituality. As one’s life unfolds and changes, the way one connects with God or finds rest in God also changes. This may be an uncomfortable transition for some. Or it may be naturally. Spirituality develops and adapts as we grow up, as we mature, as we move towards completion in Christ.

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