The 4 R’s: Rest, Recharge, Renew, Reflect

Four adults posing together outdoors in a fall setting

(left to right) Jamie Kralovec, Nick Endo, (L’24), Amy Uelmen (C’90, L’93, L’16), & Lisa Directo Davis at the Calcagnini Contemplative Center

Of all the “R” words in the English language, “Rest,” “Recharge,” and “Renew” must be among the ones I’ve heard least frequently since starting at the Georgetown University Law Center a little over a year ago. “Reasonable?” The entirety of our legal system is supported by that one little word. “Relevant?” Comes up in my Evidence class all the time. “Racketeering?” Sure. But within the hustle culture of law school, hearing the words “Rest,” “Recharge,” and “Renew” is rare – and the invitation to genuinely engage in these actions even rarer.

And so, when the opportunity arose to sign up for the inaugural “Rest, Recharge, Renew” retreat for Georgetown graduate and professional students in October, I leapt at the chance to join, not only as an alumnus of Jesuit schools and a beneficiary of countless retreats in the past but also as someone eager to address the burnout that came with being a second year JD student. I wasn’t alone in the desire to take a break from school. Twenty-six other students from across Georgetown, including students from the School of Continuing Studies, the School of Public Policy, the School of Foreign Studies, the School of Medicine, and the Law Center, joined me for a weekend of relaxation, reflection, and relationship-building at the university’s Calcagnini Contemplative Center in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The retreat was divided into three distinct parts, to reflect the three goals contained in its title. Soon after arriving on Saturday, Lisa Directo Davis, the Program Director for Georgetown’s John Main Center, invited us to “rest,” with a series of meditations. Later, Amy Uelmen, the Director for Mission and Ministry at the Law Center, led a reflection on finding the “yes” inside the “no” and provided space for us to “recharge” through small-group sharing. Early the next morning, Jamie Kralovec, Associate Director for Mission Integration at the School of Continuing Studies, gave us tips on how to continually find opportunities to “renew” our spirits after returning home later that day. Sprinkled among these formal talks were meals, hikes, and plenty of informal opportunities to get to know one another.

“Rest, Recharge, Renew” did not solve my law school burnout. It did, however, provide me a critical opportunity to step back from my day-to-day routine, assess how I am doing, and, most importantly, connect with students going through similar experiences outside the Law Center. In the law school bubble where I spend almost all of my time, it is far too easy to get sucked into the stress and hierarchy endemic to elite institutions and to forget that I am here to serve something much bigger than myself. Having the chance to pierce the bubble and meet other students, all of whom were similarly driven and passionate about their respective fields, was a reminder that I am part of a mosaic (to use a metaphor shared by Amy during the retreat). All of us are each working to do good in the world and to fill in a larger image.

In the weeks since the retreat, I’ve noticed myself taking a bit more time for rest and for relationships outside of Georgetown. My life hasn’t changed drastically. I’m still in law school, where the workload remains high and “reasonable” will continue to trump “rest,” “recharge,” and “renew” any day. But opportunities like “Rest, Recharge, Renew” remind me that the world is bigger than the Law Center and that the pressures I feel are oftentimes more imaginary than not. I’m grateful to go to a school that offers those kinds of opportunities–and I’m already looking forward to the next one.

by Nick Endo

Nick Endo is a JD Candidate at the Georgetown Law Center