With midterms taking place this week, I’ve naturally been doing a lot of thinking about my studies. Conversations with my friends have mainly been revolving around the topics we discuss in class. I’ve been thinking back on what I’ve learned so far and how it connects to what is going on in my life. My mind has been consumed with philosophy, art, literature, and leadership.
The amazing thing is, this week is no different than any other.
One of the most unique aspects to the High Sierra program is its ability to remove us from the crazy race that we run each day – waking up too early, not getting enough sleep, running an errand to the bank, to the mall, to the library, trying to catch up with friends – all the while just looking forward to the weekend so we can get rest from our crazy lives. Oh yeah, and classes fit somewhere in there.
The very reason we’re here at Azusa Pacific University, the very reason we work so hard in high school to get good grades to get into the right college, and the very reason we pay an incredibly large sum of money becomes our last priority – our burden – on a long list of “things we have to do”. Being here at High Sierra, away from the race, has shown me that studying, learning, and becoming educated is not “something I have to do”, rather, it’s “something I get to do”.
I think it’s easy to forget this when there is so much going on around us. Learning requires us to slow down, push away our distractions, and fully indulge ourselves in what we have in front of us – whether that’s Plato’s “Republic”, a research paper on why men and women communicate differently, or the Bible – and that is something for which we should rejoice. To have the ability, as college students, to slow down, push away our distractions in this world, and fully indulge ourselves in a book or an idea – that is leisure. Yet, when our lives are so filled with “errands”, the first thing to go is our studies.
This is something that I struggle with, and have struggled with over the past two years. Why can’t I sit down and commit myself to my studies? Why do I place everything else before my homework? Why do I feel like classes “take up my time”?
As Christians, and as students, our job is to become educated and love reason. Plato said that to be educated is to be virtuous, and to be virtuous is to keep our sinful desires under control. So this is our task – our calling – to become educated so that we might learn what virtue is. To fully dedicate ourselves to our studies so that we might be ruled not by our desires, but by reason. And while seeking this, I think its fair to say that we will encounter God in such a way that we never have before.
This has been my occupation and goal at High Sierra, and when I’m allowed the solitude of the mountains and the rest from the city, I can remember why it is I’m at APU and why it is we’re called to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”