Having finished my finals already, I am no longer a real student.
Even though I have known this moment has been coming since I started, these three years of my life have been geared up for learning, writing and examinations and now that I have completed my degree (praise God I will not have to do any resits), I don’t know what to do. It feels like I have lost my raison d’être, like I have had the floor taken from underneath me, cut off from my lifeblood. In the same way, after my psychological interview, I was asked to drag up all the things which had affected me in my short few years on earth, and having talked about it, and given opinions on it, I was told to go home. I had to deal with it myself. Similarly, right now, I feel by myself. Technically, I am by myself at this moment, but even when I am with people – which hasn’t happened very much in the past couple of weeks – I still feel a bit lonely and lost on the inside. But I don’t mean to be melancholic.
Let’s look on the bright side. I have my interview with the bishop on Thursday. I don’t think I can really make any plans as to what to do until I have got that over with. I was fortunate and grateful the other day, for a friend of mine offered to give me a lift to the residence, so I don’t need to worry about getting the bus times right!
And, until then at least, I am a free agent, a gentleman of leisure. I can read what I want, I can get up when I want to. I may rise at 7am, say matins and lauds, go to Mass if I can and say ‘terce’ in the Church; back home and have some breakfast, read some literature for the rest of the morning, cuddled up in the armchair with a cup of strong tea. I’ll finish my reading with ‘sext’. At lunchtime, I eat my small meal, listening to the radio, followed by a little siesta, or maybe go for a walk and say the Rosary. After this, I go outside and do some gardening, or some washing and cleaning: maintaining the household, performing my chores.
Then at tea time (surely a cup of darjeeling with some toast or cakes), but after ‘none’, I can get to work on writing my novel for a couple of hours, listening to some Mozart in the background. At about this time of day, I start to get a bit peckish as the winds begin to calm and the sun starts to think about setting: it is time for vespers. After this evening prayer, I get down to eating my dinner; all home-made of course. This week I have some very specific plans: chicken and leek pie, sausage casserole with rosemary dumplings and shepherd’s pie are on the menu. I’ll eat my supper in front of the television, reviewing the news. Maybe there will be a film or a documentary on. Then it is back to the bedroom-chapel for some meditation, or perhaps reading some devotional work – I’m working on St Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle at the moment. Then there will be enough time to catch some more radio, or have one last cup of hot chocolate before saying compline, after which I retire.
Eight hours later, I will get up: ‘venite exultemus Domino…’ and the day starts again.
I’m sure most people could not think of anything more boring. However, I will only be living this life for a couple of week, and after three years of university study, I’m quite ready to shut the door and be silent.
From time to time, I enjoy imposing a rule on myself. I don’t get pleasure from it – that is not the point. Rather, it regulates me: something which is difficult to appreciate without work or study, reconstructs my scaffolding which I have spent such a long time pulling down by my (relatively sombre) student lifestyle. Occasionally, I get a slight twinge inside my chest – no, it’s not heart problems – it’s a feeling that I’d quite like to spend some time in a monastery. I haven’t booked a retreat this year, I should get on with it. I would like to go to Pluscarden, or somewhere else which is strict and welcoming, but I shall leave it until after Thursday. Depending on the answer I get, it could shape my will rather a lot!
My brain is telling my body to do three things at the moment: Relax. Breathe. Pray.
I’ll reintegrate into the real world soon…I promise!