A few months ago my sisters and I discussed the world of Competitive Eating Contests. It is tempting to think that champion eating is a matter of: 1) open mouth and 2) shove in food. However, according to a book I had recently picked up on the subject and a documentary on MTV Real Life that one of my sisters watched there actually is a great amount of systematic thought going into it.
My sister spoke of one champion eater from Japan. Firstly, he’s got some sort of anatomical difference – the internal placement of his stomach in relation to his ribs, I think – that makes it easier for his gullet to expand to hold more food. But beyond this natural gift, he practices, he exercises, he watches tapes of his competitions to analyze his performance so he can improve. To do his job well, in order to utilize his gifts, he needed to attach some order to the process of his job.
So since that conversation, I’ve also thought about the order I add to my process of being a seminarian. By virtue of my baptism, I’m called into service of the Reign of Christ and my fellow members of creation. Also, by virtue of nature and nurture, I’ve got some concrete gifts and skills that I’m called to cultivate for the sake of the gospel. So to help me in my process of being a seminarian, I’ve taken on some disciplines for my life. Some of them are overtly spiritual. Some seem to be less spiritual at first glance but do make a big difference in my faith walk.
I’m committed to going to chapel regularly and reading scripture. I exercise more days a week than not. I try to eat a varied diet (although I’m not joining the competitive eating circuit anytime soon). I’m an introvert so I naturally lean toward cultivating my inner life. But I also make concerted efforts to get out with my friends and family on a regular basis. I pay attention to my checkbook and calendar to help me keep some sort of balance in my life.
And maybe balance is the wrong word. It’s not like as if any of us can strive for some perfect equilibrium. Things are always going crazy in some area of our life. Maybe it’s a matter of trying to aim for overall health in the midst of the craziness. And life is crazy. And seminary is crazy. But, at least for me, a certain amount of discipline helps me touch base with God and community and know that we’ll all make it out okay.