February 9, 2011

Taking the Incomplete

In many ways this first year of doctoral studies has felt discontinuous with my previous experience of formal education. In some sense this has been a welcome liberation, but there's also a certain interior vertigo.

In a very real way, I owe some of the occasional and marginal success I have had in school thus far in my life to my drive to follow directions well and always have my work ready on time. As one of my confreres puts it, my fundamental desire in life is to be "all set."

Thus, it feels very weird to meet with a professor this morning and have him insist that the best thing for my work would be to take an incomplete for his course at the end of the semester and only then begin to work on a term paper. It will be only then, he explained, that I would know how to research and write in this area. He's quite right, of course, but the whole idea of doing things that way feels so funny. It goes against something basic in my nature.

There are many necessary and salutary asceticisms into which God is inviting me through this obedience, and I pray for the willingness to accept their grace.


Anonymous said...

I hope you will not feel discouraged, Brother Charles. I know you're right that there are many lessons God might want you to learn from this, such as perserverance, perhaps, or an ability to live with uncertainty and not having things "all set." These will be gifts you may be called upon to use later. Everything is part of God's plan, especially for His chosen ones, such as yourself.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

Jeanne said...

That would bug me too - I think our approach to schoolwork and work in general is quite similar (work hard, show up on time, and always be prepared like good little Scouts). Perhaps this is also a bit of a call to obedience too in that you must rely upon the professor's experience and wisdom. Best of luck with your studies!