“Our Hearts Are Restless”: Powerful Piece on Vocation

from Catholicism for Cutters:

…Within a day of relative silence and solitude, I found not peace but an inner restlessness. It’s always been there—and perhaps always will be—it’s driven me in my academic pursuits and in my drug abuse, at my best and at my worst. And it was certainly what drove me to the Church. But I always found the famous quote from St. Augustine—”O Lord, our hearts are restless until the rest in You”—to be more of a torment than a comfort, a prickly accusation that I was not resting in God because my heart was still so damned restless.

The only real difference between my restlessness at the monastery and my restlessness elsewhere was that at the monastery I couldn’t cover it up. I’d intentionally left behind my cellphone, my laptop, and even most of my books (except a Bible, Augustine’s Confessions, and Merton’s Thoughts in Solitude). It is doubtlessly a testament to my restlessness that in slightly more than two days I’d assembled two 500 piece jigsaw puzzles that had been left in the room. Eventually, though, I had no choice: I just had to sit and be with my restlessness. In a rocking chair in the corner of the room, facing a window that overlooked the monastery’s apple orchard, I rocked my unquiet heart like it was a colicky child.

I thought I knew the cure: if I just knew what I was supposed to be doing with my life, this would all stop. I’d grown increasingly skeptical of whether a career in academe was the right path for me—research, which I did love, seemed such a self-centered pursuit and I was growing weary of the disciplinary echo-chamber. The thought of religious life had occurred to me long before I’d become a Catholic and the idea still tempted me.

Surely God will show me what to do, I thought. After all, I want to do what God wants me to do. He just needs to show me. In short: I had trusted God, I’d become a Catholic, I was ready for action, and now God was supposed to provide me with a destination. After all of this, surely I was entitled to a destination. I couldn’t be meant to restlessly stumble about forever, could I?

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