Burnout, Brutality, and Beauty

Having been sequestered by trauma and then by the scholarship of the same, I have missed much. It was both a prison into which I was flung and and then a prison I studied every square inch of, taking copious footnotes on brutality.

Of late I have emerged from the strain of it all and have found that I am immersed in a full blown burnout. Initially I couldn’t sleep, then I fell ill will a laundry list of lamentable ailments. Fatigue reigned as the cognitive fog rolled in thick. Reading anything was a ridiculous exercise. Not all of this is resolved, as there is no speedy remedy.

As one who has been released from a unmerited imprisonment, I find myself marvelling as I move from room to proverbial room entirely unimpeded. I find inexpressible joy at the smallest of things; the most humble task seems holy; the softness of solitude is seeping into the hard edges of harm.

Years ago in a dialogue with Dr. Diane Langberg, she had said that trauma could not consume my daily life. At the time, I could barely breath — the air was acrid with abuse; malignant malfeasance had perilously metastasized. Trauma not only nearly took my life and it was my life. I now know what she meant.

On this extended sabbath rest the first thing I have had to do was reestablish sleep, reconnect with the physical world around me, and reacquaint myself with beauty. Abuse is not only the lubricant on the hinges of hell — it may well be the pit of it. One can only stare into the abyss of abuse for brief periods without drenching themselves in beauty. Brutality cannot be the daily breaking news. Why? It will break you.

Self care was not enough for me, I needed a radical rest and an even more radical reset. Not only could I not think cogently anymore — I was outraged daily. I asked my children what they see as different now that I am done school and off of social media, they report that I am more available and less angry. That is good fruit from the daily pursuit of peace.

The most scholarly works I have read are recipes. The plates of the people in my neighbourhood are full of the fruits of that too.

Whatever comes when this is sabbatical is done, I intend to bring with me plates piled full of peace. I will offer them to those emaciated by the evil of abuse, to any starving sojourners, to any pained passers by — while inviting the same into the shelter of shalom. Dr. Langberg was right. Trauma is an carnivore that has long consumed enough. It is now time to create, to nourish, and to prosper in peace.

Peace deserves to be protected because you deserve to be protected. I urge you to take simple but solid steps in that direction.

PS– I’m still on sabbatical until 2021. Some things take time and time is worth the taking.

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